Beijing - World number two Rafael Nadal has said on Friday he felt no extra pressure heading into a semi-final at the China Open which could see him return to the top of the men's rankings.
The number two seed in Beijing
staged an extraordinary comeback against Fabio Fognini in his
quarter-final match to keep alive his hopes of unseating Novak Djokovic
at the top spot.
Djokovic, meanwhile, powered through his match
with American Sam Querrey to set up a clash with France's Richard
Gasquet, who sent third seed Spaniard David Ferrer crashing out 6-3,
Nadal will now have to beat Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych
in Saturday's match to return to the top for the first time since July
"It's something that doesn't create me more pressure," Nadal said.
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.
going to have a very tough opponent in front.
"In the end, it's another
"True, it's a little bit more special for that circumstances, but
Nadal looked to be heading for a crushing defeat in
his quarter-final after Fognini claimed the first set and powered to a
4-1 lead in the second.
But he broke the Italian's serve in the seventh game, before winning the next three to take the second set 6-4.
who is ranked 19th in the world, won the opener of the third set. But
the Spaniard sealed his passage through to the semi-finals by claiming
victory in the remaining games to seal the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
China Open champion Djokovic has spent 101 weeks at number one, but can
only remain top of the rankings if he reclaims his title and if Nadal
fails to reach the final.
Nadal has not lost a hardcourt match all season, after he missed the opening few weeks of 2013 with a stomach virus.
He was also sidelined for the second half of last year with a knee injury.
Berdych earned his place in the semi-finals with a convincing 7-5, 6-2 victory over American John Isner on Friday.
Djokovic was also ruthless in his disposal of Querrey, crushing his opponent 6-1, 6-2.
Meanwhile, in the women's tournament, Serena Williams powered through her match with Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-4.
Danish sixth seed only briefly offered resistance, breaking Williams's
serve in the sixth game of the second set before forcing the world
number one to go on the offensive in a 38-shot rally in the seventh.
But Williams extinguished any hope of a comeback by maintaining her two-game lead up until the conclusion of the set.
her semi-final game, the top seed will face Poland's Agnieszka
The fourth seed defeated German Angelique Kerber 7-6, 6-4 in
It was heartbreak for Chinese star Li Na, who was dumped out in her quarter-final match 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 by Petra Kvitova.
2011 French Open winner has twice reached the semi-finals in Beijing,
and looked set for her third appearance when she took the first set by
breaking Kvitova's serve in the final game.
The home crowd
favourite traded breaks with the ninth seed Czech at the start of the
second set, but Kvitova pulled clear, winning the final four games.
The match remained an intriguing battle in the decisive set, with both Li and Kvitova fighting furiously over break points.
National Tennis Centre erupted when Li saved a match point when she was
losing 3-5, but her failure to save a second in the following game
meant the 31-year-old still awaits her first major title on home soil.
will face Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals.
The Serb defeated Czech
Lucie Safarova after an early scare, eventually dumping out her opponent
6-7(7/3), 6-4, 6-4.
The China Open reaches its climax on Sunday.