Shanghai: World number one Rafael Nadal continued his rich vein of form as he swept aside Fabio Fognini of Italy in straight sets to storm into quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters here on Thursday.
The 31-year-old secured an immediate break in the second set to leave his Italian opponent with a mountain to climb, and two further breaks followed as Nadal wrapped up the match after one hour and two minutes on court.
The Swiss great, eyeing a second Shanghai Masters title, broke in the first game of the match and twice in the second set to march into the last eight.
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The players still walked a gold carpet into the arena before the game, cheered on by those early-arriving fans lining the walkway. We've got to get ready to go. "We want to get every win we can for the city and the people that were involved".
The 16-time Grand Slam victor saw off the Bulgarian Dimitrov in Beijing last week but suffered some hairy moments in getting the better of him again in a nervy quarter-final played in overcast conditions.
Nadal will today lock horns with sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals of the men's singles event.
In the game immediately after that close call, Nadal dampened Dimitrov's spirits further with a break of his own to lead 5-2 and serve out the set, although the latter played fiercely in his attempt to upset the favourite.
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Each competing team will play in eight series over that time, each one being played over three matches. The ODI series will become a direct qualification pathway to the World Cup.
Nadal took the momentum into the next game to immediately break Dimitrov and finally end the Bulgarian's resolve.
A relieved Nadal looked up to the heavens and raised his arms at the end. The fourth-seeded Croatian improved to 39-16 on the year after he defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-4 in 81 minutes on Friday.
"It's better like this than having long matches, you save, a little bit more, the body", Nadal said.
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