SHANGHAI • Rafael Nadal's growing confidence was clear for all to see, as the Spaniard dismissed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1 yesterday to reach the semi-finals of tennis' Shanghai Masters.
The world No. 7 might not have received the test he expected from a tired Wawrinka, who toiled for almost three hours on Thursday to overcome former US Open winner Marin Cilic. Nadal, who reached the Beijing final last week, needed just 63 minutes to send the Swiss fourth seed crashing out.
"Being in the semi-finals is a great result for me," he said. "I hadn't played a semi-final on hard court all year and now I am playing two weeks in a row. That's a big improvement for me.
"In terms of confidence, in terms of level of tennis, I am playing better. Very happy for that because I am working so hard."
The 29-year-old, a winner of 14 Grand Slam titles, suffered a second-round defeat by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon and was ousted in the US Open third round by Fabio Fognini but has enjoyed a resurgence since arriving in China.
From 2-2 in the first set, Nadal started to surge and reeled off nine straight games before Wawrinka chalked up a game in the second set to avoid a bagel. Having lost his past two contests with Wawrinka, Nadal improved to a 13-2 overall head-to-head record against the French Open champion.
As he looks to reach his sixth ATP World Tour final of the season, the Spaniard will face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whom he has beaten in eight of their past 11 meetings.
Tsonga got the better of South Africa's Kevin Anderson in a gruelling 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-4 match between two of the circuit's biggest hitters.
"It is a court that he (Tsonga) likes to play on," said Nadal. "The court is quick. He feels comfortable on these surfaces because he has a huge serve, very, very good forehand.
"He likes to hit the serve and then hit the forehand and go to the net. He's a very competitive player. He's in the semi-finals because he's playing well. So it will be a very tough match.
"I hope to play well, keep doing that every day, playing a little bit better every day. I hope tomorrow to continue with that improvement."
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, twice champion in Shanghai, was tested by Australian Bernard Tomic before winning 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 to stay on course for a ninth title of the year, having picked up his eighth last week in Beijing.
The Serb will face Britain's Andy Murray, who faced little resistance from Tomas Berdych to win 6-1, 6-3, in today's semi-final.
XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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