Cincinnati - Rafael
Nadal and Karolina Pliskova, the number one seeds at the WTA and ATP
Cincinnati Masters, didn't get a chance to break a sweat before play was
halted on Thursday at the rain-hit tournament.
Czech defending champion Pliskova led Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi
3-0 when play was suspended while former and future world No 1 Nadal
and compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas never started their third-round
match before the final drenching began.
Court conditions more suitable for Olympic swim star Michael Phelps
than tennis stars had US 14th seed John Isner, who beat teen Frances
Tiafoe 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, happy he snuck in a win between storms.
"Very happy to be off the court," he said. "We could have easily, if I
didn't break at 5-all, we could be 2-all in a tie-breaker right now,
not finishing. That would suck."
Second-ranked Simona Halep of Romania charged closer to taking the
world number one ranking from Pliskova by beating Latvian 15th seed
Anastasija Sevastova 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.
"I'm not playing my best tennis in this moment but I'm still
winning," Halep said. "I win against the 15th player in the world
playing not like I want and I'm really happy about it."
But five matches were pushed to Friday, when double duty could come
for Nadal, the 15-time Grand Slam champion assured of returning to world
number one next week.
Nadal was assured of advancing past injured Andy Murray for the top
spot when Roger Federer withdrew from Cincinnati with a back injury.
The 31-year-old Spaniard could meet Australian Nick Kyrgios in
Friday's quarter-finals. Croatia's Ivo Karlovic led Kyrgios 4-3 in their
Nadal will be asked to play at 1 p.m. and again at 9 p.m. if he wins, as will the Karlovic-Kyrgios winner.
Eighth-ranked Austrian Dominic Thiem, the only other seed remaining
in Nadal's half of the draw, edged France's Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (7/4),
7-6 (7/3). He faces Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-finals.
Halep, a French
Open runner-up for the second time in June, can overtake Pliskova by
winning the title in the final major tuneup for the US Open.
"To be number one in the world I think is a big thing," Halep said. "If I deserve the place, for sure I will win it."
Ukraine's fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina, who won her fifth WTA title
of the year last week in Toronto to reach a career-high fourth in the
rankings, can also become number one on Monday if she wins the title.
But she must face Germany's Julia Goerges in a postponed match, then
play the winner of another postponed match between American Sloane
Stephens and Russian Ekaterina Makarova in a Friday double on short
British seventh seed Johanna Konta downed Slovakian 11th seed
Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-4, to move into the quarter-final path of
Halep, who won her 15th career WTA title earlier this year at Madrid.
Also reaching the quarter-finals was Wimbledon champion Garbine
Muguruza. The sixth-ranked Spaniard saved three match points in downing
17th-ranked American Madison Keys 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3).
"You never knew who was going to win until the last point," Muguruza
said. "I had match points against me so it was really hard. I battled
back and I'm glad things went my way."
Muguruza has a last-eight date with eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The 32-year-old Russian, a two-time Grand Slam champion, eliminated
Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-4.
Results on Thursday from the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters tournament (x denotes seeding):
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x7) bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 6-3, 7-5
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-7 (0/7), 6-3, 6-3
David Ferrer (ESP) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x11) 6-4, 6-4
Jared Donaldson (USA) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
Dominic Thiem (AUT x3) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3)
John Isner (USA x14) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
Simona Halep (ROM x2) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x15) 6-4, 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x8) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 6-2, 6-4
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x6) bt Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 6-4, 6-2
Garbine Muguruza (ESP x4) bt Madison Keys (USA x16) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3)
Johanna Konta (GBR x7) bt Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x11) 6-3, 6-4