Rafael Nadal reached his first hard-court semifinal of the year by outlasting Jack Sock of the United States 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 at the China Open on Friday.
The third-seeded Spaniard had lost before the semifinals in seven previous hard-court tournaments in what has been a disappointing season. His last title on hard courts came in Doha, Qatar, in January 2014.
Nadal was more consistent than his American opponent, making 25 unforced errors to Sock’s 35. After dropping serve twice in the opening set, he only faced one more break point, which he saved.
“For sure, be in (sic) semifinals here is a very positive result for me in a very tough tournament, and be able to at least play four matches here is great news for me,” he said.
Next up for Nadal is Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who has beaten him three times this season, including in the third round of the U.S. Open. Fognini advanced with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 win over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.
“When you play against a great player, especially if you don’t play to your best, your chances are lower,” Nadal said. “Fognini played better in the three matches that he beat me. I was not unhappy at all after the US Open loss. I didn’t play a very bad match.”
In the women’s quarterfinals, Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky rebounded to defeat Sara Errani of Italy 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 to move within one win of cracking the top 10 for the first time in her career.
Errani was a point away from taking a 6-0, 3-0 lead in the match when Bacsinszky suddenly came back to win nine of the next 10 games to win the second set and go up 3-0 in the third.
“I looked at my coach and I told him, ‘Yeah, well, maybe it’s going to be the first day when I’m going to get double bagel,” Bacsinszky said about the possibility of losing 6-0, 6-0. “I was ready for that.”
In other matches, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland defeated Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-4, and sixth-seeded Ana Ivanovic advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.