The semifinals in Shanghai feature four former US Open champions including reigning winner Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who are now just one victory each from a meeting on Sunday.
Nadal increased his win streak to 15 after a third win over Grigor Dimitrov this season and third decided in a final set with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3 victory. Nadal led by 4-2 in the second set breaker before Dimitrov ran off five straight points to push for a decider.
Nadal saved a break point at 2-all then took the match.
“It was a very tough match,” said Nadal. “I think both of us, we played at a very high level of tennis. The conditions, of course, have been different today than my two previous matches. I think a great battle between two players who are playing all the time very focused, very intense points all the time. I think both of us served very well during the whole match, so yeah, it was decided on just a few balls, and anything can happen.”
Nadal will now face Marin Cilic who dominated Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-4, 6-3. Nadal has won four of five in that series with Cilic’s lone win coming in Beijing 8 years ago!
“He always is very dangerous opponent, and I think this surface, this court helps him,” Nadal said of Cilic. “It’s a very fast court. He’s able to go for the shots from the baseline. It will be a tough one. I know that I need to be very focused with my serve again, and I need to play aggressive and don’t let him play from comfortable positions. If not, I will be almost dead because he is going to go for the shots.”
Federer kept his slim hopes for No. 1 alive edging Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-4. The Swiss is now 10-0 on hard courts against the Frenchman.
“I thought it was a really good match. Some big points, important shots at the right time for both guys sometimes to stay even, and we both created chances,” said Federer. “I thought we were able to keep up the level from the beginning till the very end.”
His next opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, had to overcome Viktor Troicki in three sets 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and also a scary fall during the match which appeared to injure in his surgically-repaired left wrist at 2-all, 15-all in the third set. After treatment, del Potro managed to close out the Serb winning three of the last four games, but went to the hospital for an MRI and further evaluation.
“I’m glad to reach semifinals in this tournament,” del Potro said. “But to be honest now, as I say always, the health is the first of all of my life. And I have been dealing with all my injuries in the past, and now it’s time to take care of my body, see what the MRI say or what the doctor says.
“If nothing dangerous happened, I will be here for play tomorrow and doing my best.”
By reaching the semifinals, del Potro will return to the Top 20 for the first time since October 2014 three years.
Federer leads del Potro 16-6 but the Argentine just beat him at the US Open last month.
“I hope for him that it’s nothing serious. Of course it’s on the wrist, as well, that he’s had problems in the past, so this is where he’s worried, rightfully so. For me, at the end of the day, nothing changes. I’m ready to come out here tomorrow and see the match like it’s a revenge chance for the US Open, where it was tight and I couldn’t win. So I see that more than his injury,” Federer said. “But I hope for now that Juan Martin can recover and we can play a normal match.”
SATURDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
 H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) vs  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
 J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs  L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)
Not Before 4:30 pm
 R. Nadal (ESP) vs  M. Cilic (CRO)
Not Before 8:00 pm
 J. del Potro (ARG) vs  R. Federer (SUI)
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