The untouchable world number one Rafael Nadal beat big-serving American John Isner in two sets to claim a place in the semi-finals of the China Open on Thursday. Nadal will play Grigor
Nadal will play Grigor Dimitrov in the semis after the Bulgarian beat Roberto Bautista Agut earlier in the day.
Nadal will go into the semi-finals with confidence, having beaten Dimitrov eight out of the nine times they have faced.
Nadal’s victory over Isner avenges his loss a few weeks to the 6ft 11in American, sixth seed, in the Laver Cup.
And the Spanish maestro is looking to claim the second China Open title of his career.
Despite the American managing to hit an impressive 22 aces in the quarter-final, Nadal was dominant and won in straight sets 6-4 7-6.
Nevertheless, the match will be mostly remembered for a point in the second set tie-break.
Isner sent a typical rocket serve towards Nadal to open the second set tiebreaker. Nadal had to stretch to make the return on his backhand.
The Spaniard seemed to be on the back foot, as Isner shuffled up to the net to press home his advantage. But the American’s shot at the net wasn’t clinical enough and Nadal spotted the chance to lob the 6ft 11 Isner, not an easy feat.
Nadal hit a delicate backhand lob over the American, with the ball satisfyingly dropping just inside the baseline.
Skip to 0:49 in the video below to see.
The shot was perfect, and set the tone for the rest of the tie-break, which Nadal won without dropping a point.
The shot summed up everything about Nadal’s game: precision, technique, ingenuity.
There’s a reason he’s world number one…