Nadal brushes aside Gonzalez to make semis

Rain hits play again; tournament set to conclude on Monday now

Kim Clijsters sits in the players’ lounge for the rain to abate at the US Open in New York on Friday. AFP

Nadal was leading 7-6, 6-6 and 3-2 up in the tie-break when showers halted play on Thursday and with Friday's proceedings completely washed out, the Spanish third seed was in no mood to hang around.

He won four successive points to wrap up the tiebreak 7-2 and from then on Gonzalez's game simply fell apart, allowing Nadal to wrap up the win which took over 40 hours to complete thanks to the bad weather.

Nadal, whose victory allowed him to reclaim the world number two ranking from Andy Murray, will next face Argentine Juan Martin del Potro for a place in his first final at Flushing Meadows. Nadal’s match, which began on Thursday, could not be completed even on Friday, with unrelenting rain washing out all play, sending the tournament to a Monday finish for the second year in a row.

The final grand slam of the year had been treated to near-perfect weather for the first 10 days but heavy rain thereafter wreaked havoc with the schedule. Soon after Nadal won his match, rain again returned to torment the organisers, holding up other matches.
"Certainly it is a damn shame," four-times champion and TV commentator John McEnroe told Reuters about the lost day at Flushing Meadows.

The Nadal-Gonzalez match was to be followed on Saturday by the men's doubles championship and the women's semifinal between Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. The highly anticipated women's semifinal between number two seed Serena Williams and 2005 champion Kim Clijsters was another match hit by the weather.

The so-called Super Saturday scheduling of men's semifinals along with the women's final on the day before the tournament's Sunday finish has always made bad weather toward the end of the Open fortnight a dicey proposition.

"It can be a big problem," he said about a delay that carries the match over to Friday. "The winner doesn't have any leeway and has to play three in a row.
"Now we're talking about a Monday final. There's not a lot of margin for error. It also makes it tougher for Rafa (Nadal) to win it."

The 23-year-old Nadal, hoping to win the one major title to elude him, was suffering from a strained stomach muscle and could be aided by an extra day of rest. But in order to realise his dream, the Spanish left-hander would still have to play three matches in three days, with the men's semifinals on Sunday and the men's final on Monday.

The other side of the men's draw has already set up a semifinal between five-times champion Roger Federer and 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic, who played their quarters Wednesday.

Rain also forced last year's US Open to conclude Monday, the first time since 1987 that Mother Nature had added an extra day to the hardcourt major.
With two straight years of bad luck, the debate about constructing a roof over 23,000-seat Ashe Stadium will likely be renewed. Both the Australian Open and Wimbledon have roofs to deal with inclement weather.

"It seemed like a no-brainer but people at the USTA (US Tennis Association) decided they wanted to build the biggest (stadium)," said McEnroe. "But at the same price they could've had a slightly smaller stadium and had a roof."

Reuters

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