Rafael Nadal enjoyed his easiest win of the season today in Rio, and that’s because he didn’t have to lift a racquet. Nadal’s quarterfinal 2014 final opponent Alexandr Dolgopolov had to withdraw from the event due to a shoulder injury.
Rains, though, once again hit the tournament hard. But when the weather cleared Dominic Thiem took it to David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2.
“It was one of the best matches I’ve ever played, for sure,” Thiem said. “I’m unbelievably happy to be able to maintain my form from Buenos Aires here in Rio.”
Thiem has won 18 of his last 19 on clay including eight straight with wins over Nadal and Ferrer. He’ll be heavily favored in his Saturday semifinal against Guido Pella. Nadal will meet Pablo Cuevas in a rematch of their late-night quarterfinal a year ago.
In Marseille, Nick Kyrgios blew out local favorite Richard Gasquet 6-0, 6-4 in under an hour. He’ll face Tomas Berdych in a rematch of the Czech’s 4-set win in Melbourne.
“He played like a top-10 player for sure,” Gasquet said of Kyrgios who didn’t lost a point on first serve. “He’ll get there one day, there’s no doubt about that.”
The other semifinal pits Marin Cilic against Benoit Paire who upset good friend Stan Wawrinka in three sets.
In Delray Beach, Juan Martin del Potro made easy work of Jeremy Chardy beating the Frenchman 6-2, 6-3. The Argentine was again ferocious off the forehand and tonight began connecting on a few backhands.
“I’m surprising myself with the good tennis I’ve been playing,” del Potro admitted. “I’m still working to get back to my top level, if I can. But I’m really enjoying playing tennis again. I’m so glad to be able to play another match. It’s so nice to be in this stadium and have fans come and watch me play.
“Against Top 30 players, you can’t keep hitting slice backhands, so I tried to hit more two-handed backhands than yesterday. I’m still working on improving my backhand and staying with it in competition. It’s part of the recovery for my wrist.”
Cansado pero así de feliz. 😝🎉🤕
Tired but this happy. pic.twitter.com/nPScV4a5CV
— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) February 20, 2016
Del Potro will face Sam Querrey who was a 3-set winner over Tim Smyczek. The other semi features Grigor Dimitrov against Rajeev Ram.
In the Dubai women’s final, Sara Errani will meet the last player to make the field, Barbora Strycova.
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