Rafael Nadal is now just one match win from taking back the overall No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic. Nadal moved into that position earlier today after a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback win over Fabio Fognini.
At one point against the Italian, Nadal was down 6-2, 4-1 before Fab realized what was happening and predictably faded losing 11 of the last 12 games.
“It’s something that doesn’t create more pressure for me,” said Nadal of the ranking. “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.”
Up next will be the dangerous Tomas Berdych who knocked out big John Isner in straight sets. Nadal has won 14 straight over the Czech (he leads 15-3) but in a lower profile event and with the advantageous court surface I give Berdych a real shot here.
“I am going to have a very tough opponent in front of me. In the end, it’s another match,” Nadal said. “True, it’s a little bit more special for the circumstances, but nothing else. It’s the semifinal match of a big tournament, I am going to try to be competitive and try to play my best tennis. If not, I am going to have no chance to be through. It is not the moment to think about No. 1; it is the moment to think about Berdych.”
Part of me wonders if Nadal really wants to play Djokovic again here. A loss to Berdych would end the streak (now at 29 straight on hardcourts) and ease up the pressure as we head toward the finish. And Rafa will get the No. 1 ranking anyway, that’s really not a concern.
More importantly he’d avoid another grinding hardcourt match with Novak – those really can’t do his knees much good with so much tennis still to play this year per his schedule.
So maybe Nadal falters here saving the Novak match for Shanghai. Just a hunch.
In the other semi, Djokovic will face Richard Gasquet. Novak trounced Sam Querrey 6-1, 6-2 to win his 17th straight match in Beijing while Gasquet continued his nice run of late beating the struggling David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4.
“He’s No. 4 in the world so it’s a big victory for me,” said Gasquet. “I beat him at the US Open, but I had lost to him eight times, so it was a very tough match. But I was more confident after winning against him in New York.
Also at the event, in the women’s draw Serena Williams continues to hand out beatings this one on Caroline Wozniacki. Serena will play Radwanksa in the semis tonight with Kvitova-Jankovic in the other.
In Tokyo, the semis are set with Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Nicolas Almagro and Milos Raonic vs. Ivan Dodig. Del Potro needed three sets to fight off Alexandr Dolgopolov. I’m looking forward to a potential Delpo-Raonic final and it should happen.
SATURDAY BEIJING SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
 T Berdych (CZE) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
 P Kvitova (CZE) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
 S Williams (USA) vs  A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
Not Before 7:30 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
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Serena Williams Pulls Out Of Tokyo, Beijing Remains On Her Schedule
ATP London Race (29 Sept 14): Murray Moves Up, Nishikori Strengthens London Bid
Nadal, Murray Collide For Tokyo Title; Berdych Battles Cilic In Beijing
ATP Fall Guide: Where The Big Boyz – Nadal, Djokovic, Federer – Will Be Playing
Wozniacki Can Take No. 1 This Week in Beijing: Preview