Nadal, Djokovic Near Beijing Showdown; Monfils, Tsonga Tangle in Tokyo
Top seed Rafael Nadal showed no signs of wear and tear after the Spaniard ripped former No. 1 Marat Safin earlier today 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals at the China Open in Beijing.
“This is a very good start for the late season, playing three important opponents,” said Nadal. “Tomorrow, I have another important test. I hope to be ready to play tomorrow and tonight. I am going to try my best to play 100%.”
Nadal, who went the distance in the first two rounds in wins over Marcos Bagdhatis and James Blake, now faces Marin Cilic. The 6-foot-6 Cilic pulled off an impressive 6-4, 6-4 victory over Nikolay Dayvdenko.
Nadal, who won the tournament title in his last visit in 2005 and the gold medal at the Olympics last summer, is 14-0 lifetime in Beijing. He will face Cilic for the first time.
In the bottom half semifinal, second seed Novak Djokovic meets Robin Soderling. Djokovic won a shaky 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 over Fernando Verdasco while Soderling beat Ivan Ljubicic.
“I had ups and downs in today’s match,” said Djokovic who is 3-0 against Soderling. “Verdasco used these chances in the second set when he broke and he had control over the match. I had to save energy in the second set for the refreshing start of the third and I was fortunate enough to do so.”
The battle for France will take place tomorrow when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga squares off against countryman Gael Monfils. Both Frenchman needed three sets in the quarterfinals with Tsonga beating Ernests Gulbis and Monfils taking out Stanislas Wawrinka.
“I am happy with the way things are going the past few weeks,” said Monfils who lost to Tsonga in their only previous meeting in Bangkok last year. “I am playing well and winning matches. It’ll be good to play Jo in the semis, we know each other so well and I hope it will be a great match for the crowd.”
In the earlier semifinal Mikhail Youzhny tests Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt takes a 3-0 lifetime record against Youzhny, winning seven of the previous eight sets.
Coverage from both events is scheduled on the Tennis Channel later tonight.
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