Beijing, China (SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning champion and three-time
overall titlist Novak Djokovic and red-hot superstar Rafael Nadal were a
pair of quarterfinal winners Friday at the $2.315 million China Open.
The top-seeded world No. 1 Djokovic cut down 6-foot-6 American Sam Querrey
6-1, 6-2 in a mere 52 minutes, while the second-seeded former No. 1 Nadal came
from behind to beat pesky Italian Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 on the
hardcourts at the National Tennis Center.
Nadal was one point away from trailing Fognini 2-6, 1-5 on Day 5 before
mounting a dramatic comeback.
The U.S. and French Open champion Nadal would supplant Djokovic atop the
men's rankings with a victory over Tomas Berdych here on Saturday. The super
Spaniard already owns a whopping 10 titles on tour this year and is currently
riding a 20-match winning streak.
"It's something that doesn't create more pressure for me," Nadal said. "It's
something that already happened in the past. If that happens again, it will be
good, it will be special for me, but we'll see.
"I am going to have a very tough opponent in front of me. In the end, it's
another match. True, it's a little bit more special for the circumstances, but
nothing else. It's the semi-final match of a big tournament, I am going to try
to be competitive and try to play my best tennis. If not, I am going to have
no chance to be through. It is not the moment to think about No. 1; it is the
moment to think about Berdych."
Nadal is a dominant 15-3 lifetime against Berdych, who lost to the mighty
Spaniard in the 2010 Wimbledon final. Nadal is 3-0 versus the Czech slugger
The 13-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, who was the China Open champ back in
2005, was last ranked No. 1 in July of 2011.
The Australian Open titlist Djokovic's opponent in Saturday's semifinals will
be fifth-seeded U.S. Open semifinalist Richard Gasquet.
Friday's other quarters saw Gasquet upend third-seeded French Open runner-up
David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4 and a fourth-seeded Berdych top eighth-seeded American
John Isner 7-5, 6-2. The 2011 China Open champion Berdych was a runner-up in
Bangkok last week. Ferrer was the 2010 Beijing runner-up to Djokovic.
The 2013 China Open titlist will earn $557,100.
The Sports Network