Gritty Nadal tames Isner

Gritty Nadal tames Isner

Rafael Nadal got some fibre from a tennis ball lodged in his eye but that did not stop the world number one setting up a China Open semi-final on Saturday with “great guy” Grigor Dimitrov.

The Spaniard tamed the big-serving American John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) on Friday to set up the clash with the third-seeded Bulgarian.

Dimitrov booked his place in the last four on Beijing’s outside hard courts with a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-2 victory over another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.

Nadal, 31, the 16-time Grand Slam champion, revved up a gear to surge through the tie break in the second set, although there was concern at one point during the second set when he appeared to be suffering an eye problem.

“Just something came to my eye, that’s all,” said Nadal, who is chasing a sixth title this year.

“I think it was just a hair or something, a hair from the tennis ball. It was bothering me for a while.”

Nadal will face a familiar figure in Dimitrov.

Also into the semifinals is the Australian Nick Kyrgios, who was up 6-0 and 3-0 when Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis retired.

Kyrgios faces the number two seed Alexander Zverev of Germany or Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

Simona Halep took a step nearer overhauling Garbine Muguruza as world number one when the Romanian raced into the semifinals of the women’s draw.

The second-ranked Halep eased past Russia’s unseeded Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in 69 minutes and will face Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.

Petra Kvitova became the third woman into the semifinals when she defeated fellow Czech Barbora Strycova.

Cilic wins

In Tokyo, Big-serving Croatian Marin Cilic sent down 11 aces as he took less than an hour to advance to the semifinals of the Japan Open with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Ryan Harrison.

David Goffin found himself 5-3 down before beating Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-2.

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