Nadal crushes Gonzalez to finally seal semis berth
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:42
Defying the limited expectations of so many – including the man himself – Rafael Nadal has reached the last four of the US Open for the second year running, after finally and emphatically completing his three-day quarter-final against Fernando Gonzalez 7-6(4) 7-6(2) 6-0.
Coming back on court with the rain-affected match poised at 7-6(4) 6-6, with Nadal leading the serving Gonzalez 3-2 in the tiebreak, the match looked set to swing in favour of the player who could clinch the next few points.
And so it proved, as the world No.3 rattled off four points in succession to put himself a set away from the final four, Gonzalez missing three successive forehands to drop the set within three minutes of the restart.
It got worse for the Chilean, who double-faulted twice as Nadal began the third set with a break, driving Gonzalez to smash his racket in frustration.
With one eye on the grey clouds overhead – rain had forced the men off on Thursday night and prevented any play on Friday, pushing the men’s final into next week – Nadal wasted no time in pressing home his advantage.
And although concerns about an abdominal injury had troubled the Spaniard on Thursday, it was Gonzalez who required a timeout to get some strapping changed to blisters on his foot.
The treatment made no difference, however, as the rain held off just long enough for Nadal to seal victory with a love set, ensuring he will return for Sunday’s semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro relatively fresh.
“Lucky for me,” Nadal said afterwards, referring to the rest that allowed his abdominal strain to recover. “It was important to have one day off to get better for today.
“I played well, that’s very important as well, and Fernando had more mistakes than the last day and that helped me a little bit more.”
“He’s a very good player, very solid from the baseline and now his serving is unbelievable,” he added about semi-final opponent del Potro. “So I know I have to play my best match here if I want to have a chance to win and that’s what I’ll try to do.”
Shortly after the match, just as the men’s double final was set to get underway the rain returned, pushing the schedule further behind.
With both men’s and women’s semi-finals still to be played – the women’s final is traditionally played a day ahead of the men’s final – tournament organiers may be faced with the prospect of a Tuesday finish should the bad weather persist.