Former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal dialed back the clock and showed a glimpse of his old confidence on Friday at the Shanghai Masters in China where he punished Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1 to move into the semifinals.
Wawrinka looked to be feeling the effects of an almost-three-hour match the previous day against Marin Cilic.
“Being in the semifinals is a great result for me,” said Nadal. “I hadn’t played the semifinals on hard court all year and now I am playing two weeks in a row in the final rounds. That’s a big improvement for me. In terms of confidence, in terms of level of tennis, I am playing better. Very happy for that because I am working so hard.”
Wawrinka admitted afterward to some fatigue from the night before.
“For sure physically I feel the effect of last night, but also the past 10 days,” Wawrinka said. “I’ve been playing a lot, winning Tokyo. Today I was just struggling a little bit. It’s that simple. Against Nadal you cannot do anything if you’re not 100%.”
Nadal improved to 13-2 career against the French Open champion after losing their two previous meetings. He will next meet No. 16 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who in his quarterfinal outlasted No. 12 Kevin Anderson 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4.
“It is a court that [Tsonga] likes to play on,” said Nadal. “The court is quick. He feels comfortable on these surfaces because he has a huge serve — very, very good forehand. He likes to hit the serve and then hit the forehand and go to the net.”
The other Shanghai semifinal on Saturday will be a blockbuster when No. 1 Novak Djokovic meets an in-form No. 3 Andy Murray.
On Friday Murray rolled over a frustrated No. 5 Tomas Berdych 6-1, 6-3, while Djokovic dismissed an early threat from Aussie Bernard Tomic 7-6(6), 6-1.
“It was a very good first set,” said Djokovic, who is on a 15-match winning streak. “High quality tennis from both of us. Especially Bernard played some smart tennis, stepping in every shorter ball, serving very accurately. He pushed me. Went down to a couple points to decide the first set in the tiebreak. Obviously it was a huge relief for me to win the first set, and started off the second with a break. That gave me more confidence. I think I played a very, very good second set.”
Djokovic is attempting to win the Beijing-Shanghai double for the third time in his career after last week winning the China Open for the sixth time.
Djokovic leads the head-to-head with Murray 19-9, but the Brit won their last meeting in the final of this year’s Masters Canada.
“I’m aware it’s going to be an extremely difficult match,” said Murray. “He’s played very, very well for the whole year. It was important that I got a quick match tonight because it’s late. I’ll get well recovered, get a nice, long sleep and play a good match tomorrow, but it’s going to be a tough match for sure.”
SATURDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 1:30 pm
 D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs  S. Bolelli (ITA) / F. Fognini (ITA)
 R. Nadal (ESP) vs  J. Tsonga (FRA)
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
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