It was a scorching day in Buenos Aires, with temperatures breaking 100 degrees. The players found themselves battling not just their opponents, but the conditions as well. Some fared better than others, and there was a major upset as the quarterfinals were contested on Friday at the Argentina Open.
Rafael Nadal was feeling the heat in his quarterfinal matchup, and he was far from his best as he took on Paolo Lorenzi. Still, the heat combined with some gutsy hitting from the Italian was not enough to stop the defending champion, as Nadal reached the semifinals with a 7-6(3), 6-2 victory. Like his opening match, Nadal would grab a break in the first set for a lead, only for his opponent to fight back from 4-1 down to level the opening set.
Confidence renewed, Lorenzi began attacking Nadal more in the later stages of the set, but the Spaniard’s defense held steady. The set required a tiebreak, which was won by the top seed. The momentum was firmly in Nadal’s corner in the second set, and the heat appeared to be having more of an effect on the 34 year-old Italian. Nadal broke twice and won more than half of Lorenzi’s service points in the set to claim victory in an hour and 51 minutes.
In the semifinals, Nadal will take on young gun Dominic Thiem, who ended Dusan Lajovic’s run with a 6-4, 6-2 victory. The young Austrian struggled on his second serve, only winning seven of seventeen points when missing his first serve. However, Thiem’s first serve was on fire and he only lost four points on his first serve in the entire match. He also saved all five break points he faced, responding with three breaks of his own, one in the first set and two in the second. Lajovic had been serving well throughout the tournament, but his hot streak ran out in the heat as he was limited to 57 percent of his service points in the match. Thiem was victorious in an hour and 20 minutes.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the big shocker on Friday, falling victim to a dominant serving performance by a resurgent Nicolas Almagro. The Spaniard claimed his first top-ten victory in almost two years, powering past Tsonga 6-2, 7-5. Almagro won 92 percent of his first serve points and did not allow Tsonga a single break point opportunity in the entire match. In fact, the former world number nine only lost seven points on serve in total in the hour and thirteen-minute victory. He also broke his French opponent three times and won 55% of his second serve points to advance to the semifinals.
Almagro awaits the winner of the match between David Ferrer and Pablo Cuevas. Ferrer had already secured the break and was leading 4-2 when rain postponed play until Saturday. The winner of that match will pull double-duty, finishing their quarterfinal and contesting the semifinal against Almagro. Nadal and Thiem will contest the other semifinal on Saturday,