Eighth seed Rafael Nadal has beaten Milos Raonic in the third round of the Shanghai Masters, 6-3, 7-6. The Spaniard's tough tests this week will continue in the quarterfinal, as he will face Stan Wawrinka in what promises to be a blockbuster match.
Dominant First Set For Nadal
Nadal kicked off the first set with a hold to 15, showcasing some of his best serves. The Spaniard's forehand was on point against Karlovic in the second round, and his success with it definitely continued against Raonic. In a return game with three forehand winners and a backhand passing shot, Rafa broke serve to get an early lead of 2-0. Despite Raonic following with his own forehand winner, Nadal was able to consolidate the break with some more perfect serves, a side of his game that was very strong today, as he won 79% of his first serve points. Both managed to keep hold of their serves easily, Milos with some strong trademark serves and Rafa with some more phenomenal forehand winners. Nadal had a look-in at deuce at 4-2 with an spectacular forehand down the line, but with some nice groundstrokes the Canadian recovered nicely to hold. A couple more comfortable games later, Nadal served out the first set to put himself one away from the quarterfinal, 6-3.
Tight Second Set
The first game of the second set was extremely tight, with Raonic kicking things off with a nice forehand winner and coming off the blocks much more aggressively. However, with a crushing forehand passing shot, Nadal immediately gained break point. With a forehand down the line winner though, Milos saved it and was able to serve out a very tight game. Raonic's forehand was certainly clicking in this second set as he went up 0-30 on the Spaniard's serve, but with a forehand passing shot, volley, and an ace, the former world number one evened things out 1-1.
Both players then continued to hold quickly and easily, until Nadal made an impression on the Canadian's serve, with an incredible forehand 'banana' down the line to get to deuce. However, with back to back aces, Raonic kept his cool superbly and stayed in front 3-2. Both continued to play very aggressively and consistently in the remainder of the second set, holding their serves and not making much of an impact on each others. Then, Nadal had an opportunity at 5-5 30-0 on the Canadian's serve. It wasn't meant to be though, as Raonic responded fantastically with a cross court forehand winner and two aces to to hold 6-5. Nadal fired himself up after another forehand down the line, and forced the second set to be decided by a tiebreak.
Nadal Clinches Victory
In Nadal's third tiebreak of the week so far, he was very aggressive, going up a mini-break immediately. With a big backhand smash winner followed by a huge forehand passing shot, the Spaniard, who was the dominant player in the tiebreak, clinched victory 6-3, 7-6. Nadal has now played and won two fantastic matches in a row, and is cushioned by a finals appearance in Beijing. The Spaniard appears as close to his best as he's been for a while, which is great news for him as he fights to live another day in Shanghai.