Rafael Nadal defeated Italian Fabio Fognini at the Beijing quarterfinals in a performance that can only be described as awe-inspiring. Down a set and 1-4 in the second, he fought his way back to take the match that is surely the best of the tournament.
The first point of the first set seemed to be an ominous one, with Rafa slipping on the court and hurting his knee. He later took an MTO to have the scrape looked at. Hopefully, it’s just an external wound. He seemed to have lost some of the spring in his step as he went down 4-1. He scored late in the set but Fognini took it at 6-2. The second set seemed to go the same way, with Fognini hitting winners, until Rafa got a break while down at 4-1 to turn the set around and dig himself out. He finished at 6-4. The third set went steadfastly in Rafa’s favor, where he allowed Fognini to score just one game before taking it at 6-1. Amazing match and a great performance from Fognini, especially in the first half of the match, but Rafa’s strength, confidence, and drive to fight was on full display today and his greatness showed.
Rafa will next face the winner of the match between John Isner and Tomas Berdych in the semifinal. If he wins his semi-final against Berdych or Isner, he will return to World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since 3rd July 2011. Should Nadal lose before the final, Djokovic must still win his fourth China Open crown to stay at the top for a 102nd week.
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