Saturday 24 February 2018

Impressive Nadal storms past teen into semi-finals

Rafael Nadal celebrates after his match against Andrey Rublev. Photo: Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports
Rafael Nadal celebrates after his match against Andrey Rublev. Photo: Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

Nigel Whittaker

Top seed Rafael Nadal swept past Russian teenager Andrey Rublev to book his place in the US Open semi-finals.

Nadal, 31, saw off 19-year-old Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 37 minutes under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof.

Rublev - the youngest man to reach the last eight here in 16 years - had his moments, mostly on the forehand, which is shaping up to be a weapon of real substance.

But this son of a boxer was punching above his weight category and failed to hold serve in an opening set that lasted just 23 minutes.

The young Russian beat his thigh in frustration when he gave up a break point early in the second set. He saved that one but he had run into Nadal at the peak of his powers, memories of the Spaniard's shaky early performances long since faded.

Nadal sent returns fizzing at Rublev's feet and tormented the teenager with his unerring backhand in particular.

On the women's scene, Garbine Muguruza will become world number one next Monday after Coco Vandeweghe continued America's dominance by beating Karolina Pliskova.

Pliskova needed to at least match her achievement of last year by reaching the final to prevent Wimbledon champion Muguruza overtaking her.

Opener

She had a set point in the opener against Vandeweghe but could not take it and the 20th seed completed a 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 victory to reach her second Grand Slam semi-final of the season.

Venus Williams won a thrilling clash with Petra Kvitova to reach the semi-finals for the first time in seven years, eventually prevailing 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) after two hours and 35 minutes.

US Open,

Live, Eurosport 1, 6.0

Irish Independent

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