Nadal Sweeps Past Rublev Into Semis
Spaniard awaits Federer or del Potro
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal was a man on a mission as he advanced to his sixth US Open semi-final on Wednesday with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Andrey Rublev.
“It was a good match,” said Nadal in his on-court interview with ESPN. “Andrey was playing in his first quarter-final and he played with more mistakes than usual. It’s an important victory for me, winning past two matches in straight sets is very good news for me. I’m very, very happy to be in the semi-finals again in New York. It’s very important to me and I’m very excited to have this opportunity again.”
Looking to win his third US Open crown and maintain his grip on the top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Nadal goes on to face either Roger Federer or Juan Martin del Potro in his 26th Grand Slam semi-final on Friday. Should he play Federer, the No. 1 ranking would be on the line.
“If it's Roger Federer, of course I am excited to play that match, and of course is special to play against him here in New York for the first time in our career” he said. “That's something that didn't happen before and is something strange, because we played couple of times in all the important events of the world.”
Nadal has a 3-2 record in US Open semi-final appearances, going on to make the final against Novak Djokovic three times, beating the Serbian in 2010 and 2013 and finishing runner-up in 2011. The Mallorcan is looking to win his second Grand Slam championship of the season, after capturing La Decima at Roland Garros (d. Wawrinka).
With Pablo Carreno Busta set to face Kevin Anderson in the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw, it is the first time that two Spaniards have reached the US Open semi-finals.
The Spaniard was in awesome form against the 19-year-old Rublev, battering the first-time major quarter-finalist into submission to prevail in one hour and 36 minutes. The match went by in the blink of an eye for Rublev, who had earned his spot in the last eight after victories over seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov and ninth seed David Goffin.
The youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001, Rublev had dazzled with his aggressive play leading into the match, but while he showed flashes of brilliance on the forehand side, the Russian was rarely allowed the opportunity to show the Arthur Ashe crowd what he was capable of.
The formidable Nadal dictated the majority of rallies winning almost double the amount of points as Rublev (92-53). The left-hander converted seven of the 18 break points he created and won 84 per cent of points behind his first serve.
“I think I have been improving during the whole event, and I have been doing step forward match by match, and now is the moment to do it, another step forward, a little bit higher is possible, too,” said Nadal. “I think I have the attitude to try to make that happen. I am excited about that semi-finals. I know I’m going to have a very tough opponent in front, and I need to play my best.”
Rublev’s run in New York sees the Russian rise to second in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, placing him in a very strong position to qualify for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals. The Muscovite will resume his qualifying campaign when he returns to action on the ATP World Tour in St. Petersburg in two weeks.
“It's a great experience to play quarter-final against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal,” said Rublev. “I'm really happy. I will try now to practise harder to improve everything for the next time if we play each other to try to compete better.”