ATP Beijing: Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev headlines semifinal lineup

Quarterfinals day at the China Open saw top seeds Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev progress to the semifinals as both of them prevailed without losing a set in their respective matches, setting up an incredible day of action tomorrow.

Nadal claims seventh consecutive competitive win over Isner

Rafael Nadal was on the losing end against John Isner last week at the Laver Cup, and it was the American’s first ever win over the 16-time Grand Slam champion, though it was not an official victory considering it was just an exhibition.

This week, the Spaniard looked to exact revenge but Isner came into the match full of confidence, threatening to make the early breakthrough in the encounter. However, Nadal stood firm and fended off a break point and eventually broke at the last moments to take the first set 6-4.

The underdog continued to apply the pressure on the return but was unable to convert his opportunities as Nadal extended the second set to a tiebreak. Unexpectedly, Isner faltered in the tiebreak and was whitewashed, with Nadal claiming seven straight points to take the confidence-boosting win.

Rafael Nadal in action | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac
Rafael Nadal in action | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac

Dimitrov looks to return to the final

Defending finalist Grigor Dimitrov will make his third consecutive appearance in the semifinals of the China Open after beating Roberto Bautista Agut in three tough sets. A tight first set saw both players remain close to one another on the scoreboard, and they soon proceeded into a tiebreak as neither of them was able to find any opportunities with four consecutive love service holds at one point of time. Recovering from an early mini-break deficit, Dimitrov stormed back to claim the tiebreak 7-5 and looked on course for the win.

Nonetheless, Bautista Agut came up with the best possible reply as he saved a break point early in the second set and proceeded to make the first breakthrough, sending the match into a decider. The Spaniard seemed headed towards the upset when he earned two break points in a pivotal third game of the final set, but he failed to convert his opportunities as everything went against him from then, gifting the win to the inspired Bulgarian.

Grigor Dimitrov celebrates winning a point | Photo: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images AsiaPac
Grigor Dimitrov celebrates winning a point | Photo: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images AsiaPac

Kyrgios benefits from a retirement

The shortest match of the day ended in a bittersweet way as Steve Darcis was forced to retire in his quarterfinal encounter against eighth seed Nick Kyrgios. Six games came and went within a blink of an eye for the hampered Belgian as he soon found himself conceding a bagel to the in-form Australian after just 22 minutes of play. Kyrgios was ruthless but Darcis was unable to complete the match in the second set, eventually retiring at 0-6, 0-3 down.

Zverev prevails in a battle of the #NextGens

Alexander Zverev was looking in top-form during his one-sided victory against young talent Andrey Rublev, triumphing in straight sets in just over an hour. The first set was as quick as it seemed on the scoreboard, with the German just conceding a mere 12 points throughout the set as he stormed to the lead within just 25 minutes.

The world number four looked poised for the comfortable win when he went up 5-1 in the second set, but nerves seemed to have gotten to him right at the crucial moments as Rublev managed to produce an incredible fightback to retrieve a break and prevail in two consecutive lengthy games. However, Zverev served for the match and he was second-time lucky as he finally claimed the win for a place in the semifinals.

Alexander Zverev in action | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac
Alexander Zverev in action | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac

Tomorrow’s schedule will see Rafael Nadal go up against a familiar foe in Grigor Dimitrov, a repeat of their Australian Open semifinal five-set thriller this year. Alexander Zverev will face nemesis Nick Kyrgios in the other semifinal of the day, and this line-up is particularly impressive for an ATP World Tour 500 series event.