10 Oct 2009

China Tennis Open wrap-up

8:15 am on 10 October 2009

The World number two Rafael Nadal has stopped Marat Safin's Beijing revival in its tracks on Friday with a clinical 6-3 6-1 victory to reach the semi-finals of the China Tennis Open.

Spain's Nadal, playing his first tournament since returning from an abdominal injury, dominated a brief but entertaining encounter against fellow former world number one Safin, who is retiring at the end of the season.

Safin had served up 12 aces in his upset of seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez but Nadal faced only one from the big Russian in front of a packed centre court.

Robbed of his serve, no amount of racket twirling and delicate net play could keep Safin in the match and Nadal converted his one break point in the first set and raced away with the second.

Nadal will play Marin Cilic for a place in his first final since May's Madrid Masters after the eighth-seeded Croatian beat fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 6-4 in the first match on centre court.

Second seed Novak Djokovic also reached the last four by beating Spanish fifth seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3 1-6 6-1 to move within one victory of reclaiming the world number three ranking.

Andy Murray's withdrawal from next week's Shanghai Masters because of injury means Djokovic just has to reach the final in Beijing to move above the Briton in the rankings on October the 19th.

To reach his eighth tour final of the year, Djokovic will have to get past Swede Robin Soderling, who defeated Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 6-4.

Elena Dementieva also joined the exodus of top women's seeds when she was upset 7-5 6-3 by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals of the WTA's new "crown jewel" tournament.

The fourth-seeded Dementieva's defeat means none of the world's top five women made it through to the semi-finals, and ended her winning streak at the Olympic tennis centre at nine matches.

Dementieva, who won Olympic gold here last year, had cruised to the quarter-finals as other seeds fell by the wayside but Radwanska broke her serve early and never let her settle.

The 12th-seeded Radwanska will meet Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals after the Frenchwoman came from behind to beat Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonareva 3-6 7-5 6-2.

Nadia Petrova ended Chinese Peng Shuai's giant-killing run, winning 6-7 6-3 6-2 to succeed where Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova failed earlier in the week.

She will next play the 2006 China Open champion and sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who recorded a 6-3 6-3 victory over fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.