Rafael Nadal is one win away from reclaiming the World No 1 ranking after pulling off an impressive comeback to beat Fabio Fognini at the China Open here.
It looked like Novak Djokovic might hang on to top spot for another week when Nadal trailed Fognini by a set and 4-1 in the quarter-finals. Consistency has never been Fognini’s strong point and Nadal took advantage of a wobble from the Italian to roar back and win 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Victory over Tomas Berdych in the Last Four today would take Nadal back to No 1 for the first time in more than two years. The Spaniard said on www.atpworldtour.com: “It’s something that doesn’t create more pressure for me. It’s something that already happened in the past. If that happens again, it will be good, it will be special for me, but we’ll see.
“I am going to have a very tough opponent in front of me. In the end, it’s another match. True, it’s a little bit more special for the circumstances, but nothing else.”
The omens are not good for Berdych, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over John Isner, given he has lost his last 14 matches against Nadal dating back to 2006. Even if Nadal did lose to Berdych, he would still take over as No 1 unless Djokovic defended his title.
The Serbian was in devastating form yesterday, beating America’s Sam Querrey 6-1, 6-2 in only 52 minutes. His semi-final opponent will be Richard Gasquet, who repeated his US Open victory over third seed David Ferrer, winning 6-3 6-4 to boost his chances of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Meanwhile, women’s top seed Serena Williams overcame a second-set fightback to defeat Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-4.
Williams won 10 of the first 11 games before Wozniacki found a foothold in the match, but the American was too strong in the end. In the semi-finals Williams will play third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Germany’s Angelique Kerber 7-6 (9/7), 6-4.