In a match that began after 1am local time, Rafael Nadal overcame a set deficit to pull away from Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the Rio quarterfinals.
“It was a complicated time at the beginning,” Nadal said. “But in the second set I felt better. I felt better control in the match even though I could not break him until 6-5. I’m happy because this was an important victory for me, to be able to be in a semi-final. It’s a great result, it gives me points, confidence and the opportunity to play tomorrow. I hope I’m recovered.”
The match finished at 3:18am local time, six minutes from matching the ATP record of 3:24am for the latest finish at a non-Slam tour match, set at the 2006 Tokyo event. It was Nadal’s latest finish ever to a match. The match was delayed due to the day session matches all running three sets.
“No tennis tournament should end at this time,” Nadal told the AP. “It’s tough for the players, but maybe worse for the fans. It very bad on the part of the ATP. It’s not the tournament’s fault. It was the ATP that didn’t want to reschedule a match. If it’s a Grand Slam you have a day to rest. It seems like a terrible error to me.”
Cuevas, who had won 31 of his last 32 clay matches including the Sao Paulo title last weekend, finished the match in poor fashion simply spraying balls in disgust amid a chorus of boos.
Nadal, who has never lost in Brazil (17-0), will meet Fabio Fognini Saturday evening in the second-from-5pm semifinal. The Spaniard has won his last 52 semifinal matches on clay.
In the other semi, David Ferrer faces Andreas Haider Maurer who outlasted Federico Delbonis in a final set breaker.
“I can enjoy the match against him,” the Austrian said of playing Ferrer. “I played him two times already and in both, I had no chance against him. But I want to go on the court and enjoy this match. I think I have a chance if I play my game.”
In Marseille, Sergiy Stakhovsky stunned Stan Wawrinka. In the semis he’ll meet Gilles Simon. The other semi pits Roberta Bautista Agut against French favorite Gael Monfils.
“I was very slow,” said Wawrinka. “I was not very active, especially in the first set, and he played really well. I tried my best to make it change, but it didn’t happen.”
And in Delray, Donal Young continues his strong play beating Alexandr Dolgopolov. Next for Donald is a semi date against Bernard Tomic. In the night match Ivo Karlovic brings his big serve to take on Adrian Mannarino.
“I feel good. Hopefully it’s not over yet,” said the 25-year-old Young. “I’m enjoying it, and I’m going to ride the wave. Hopefully this is not the end and there can be some more.”
The final at the WTA Dubai is set, it will feature top seed Simona Halep against Karolina Pliskova after both won tough three setters in the semifinals.
Halep fended off a fatiguing Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.
“I think it’s taken a toll on me, but I’m still pretty pleased with my week considering everything that has been going on,” Wozniacki said. “But today it was like the air of the balloon just kind of went out.”
Halep is now a win away from the equal-biggest title of her career – she won another Premier 5-level title a year ago in Doha. She would also return to No.3 on the WTA Rankings by winning the title.
Pliskova outlatest Garine Muguruza 7-5 in the third.
“To be honest, I don’t like to play girls who are serving so strong, but I have a good return, I think,” Halep said. “But tomorrow won’t just be about the serve. It’s about everything. She hits the ball very strong. I have to be really focused, stay close to the line, and play smart but also aggressive.
“If I fight I can win. I believe in my chances and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
This would be Halep’s biggest career title.
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