Does Rafael Nadal really want to play Novak Djokovic? Does anyone? Djokovic is a 5-time Beijing champion. He’s won all 28 matches he’s played in the city and right now he’s playing scary good.
Today, he destroyed John Isner 6-2, 6-2. That’s Isner who twice beat him on hardcourts and who in nine career meeting had played a tiebreak against the Serb at least in one set in every match. But this Friday, he won a total of just FOUR games in one of his worst losses of his career.
“Today was a great match,” said Djokovic who’s lost just nine games in three matches. “Obviously the fact that he served that high of a first percentage of serves in and I managed to break him twice says enough about the quality of the return that I had today. That was the key to winning the match.
“Conditions didn’t help him, didn’t help his serve, even though he was serving around 200 average. But I was managing to pick up balls from each corner on the return. I was feeling like I can get a lot of balls back in play and make him move, which was one of the intentions tactically in order to be successful today.”
But before Rafa has any chance at Novak, another Spaniard will have a go and that’s 33-year-old David Ferrer. Ferrer beat Lu 6-3, 6-1 to reach the semifinals and improve his London hopes.
Novak, though, leads 15-5 winning the last nine losing just two sets along the way. So it’s awfully hard to give David much hope there. Not with the way Novak’s hitting the ball.
And honestly, I don’t give Nadal much of a chance either. That is if Rafa can even get to the final to face Novak.
First, Nadal has to beat his new nemesis Fabio Fognini of all people.
After winning his first four against the Italian, Fognini has inexplicably turned the tables winning three of four this year including a 5-set thriller at the US Open where Nadal blew a 2-set lead.
It’s a match I still can’t believe Rafa lost, and I’m sure he and his legion of fans feels the same way. So after beating Jack Sock in three sets, he’s got a shot at some redemption against Fabio.
“He’s a great player,” said Nadal of Fab. “When you play against a great player, especially if you don’t play to your best, your chances are lower. If I am able to play my best tomorrow, I am going to have my chances. If not, it is going to be tough. It’s simple. Sport is simple. The winner is the player who plays better. Fognini played better in the three matches that he beat me.
“I was not unhappy at all after the US Open loss. I didn’t play a very bad match. I played okay. He played great. He beat me. Congratulate him and keep going for me.”
If Rafa plays his very best and he can’t beat Fabio, then Rafa should just quit the sport immediately. But seriously, if I had to pick I think he makes good and gets back in the win column. Then again, who knows. Fabio is deep, deep in Rafa’s head. So it should be a fun to watch if you are up past midnight tonight on the East Coast.
The women are also in Beijing and after a spate of withdrawals, injuries, lack of interest for this, one of the biggest WTA events on the calendar, the semifinals offer Ana Ivanovic v Timea Bacsinszky and former Wimbledon finalists Garbine Muguruza against Agnieszka Radwanska.
Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka are a match away from a nice Tokyo final. In his semifinal, Wawrinka shouldn’t have much trouble with lefty
Gilles Simon Gilles Muller who is having his best season.
Nishikori beat Marin Cilic in three today, and now has the dangerous Benoit Paire who he lost to in the US Open first round.
So both Rafa and Kei can atone for shock losses to flaky foes at the US Open! And I expect them to do just that.
SATURDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
ATP –  R. Nadal (ESP) vs F. Fognini (ITA)
Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA –  A. Ivanovic (SRB) vs  T. Bacsinszky (SUI)
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) vs  A. Radwanska (POL)
Not Before 7:30 pm
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  D. Ferrer (ESP)
WTA –  M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs  C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) or  H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE)
SATURDAY TOKYO SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 12:00 noon
 S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs G. Muller (LUX)
B. Paire (FRA) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
 R. Klaasen (RSA) / M. Melo (BRA) vs A. Qureshi (PAK) / G. Simon (FRA)
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