Spain’s Rafael Nadal earned his most convincing victory over a top player in more than a year, dismissing reigning French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1 here in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters hard-court event.
After an evenly contested start, Nadal broke Wawrinka’s serve in the sixth game of the first set for a 4-2 lead and completely dominated the rest of the match on Friday.
The 29-year-old Spaniard, who has struggled through a frustrating season in which he did not capture any of the big events on the tennis calendar and failed to reach a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time in more than a decade, jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and finished off the contest in just over an hour
The fourth-ranked Wawrinka only put 46 percent of his first serves in play, a major problem for the Swiss in a match in which he only won 38 percent of his second-serve points. That led to nine break points for the Spaniard, who converted five of them.
By contrast, the eighth-ranked Nadal put 73 percent of his first serves in play and won 76 percent of those points. He also saved the lone break point he faced.
In the post-match press conference, Nadal, who reached the final of last week’s hard-court event in Beijing, losing 6-2, 6-2 to Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, said he was pleased with his better recent results.
“Being in semi-finals is a great result for me. I (hadn’t) played in semi-finals on hard court (this year prior to October). So now I am playing two weeks in a row,” the 14-time Grand Slam champion said.
“That’s a big improvement for me. In terms of confidence, in terms of level of tennis, I am playing better. Very happy for that because I am working so hard.”
Next up for Nadal in Saturday’s semi-finals will be Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 16 seed, who scraped past big-serving South African Kevin Anderson 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-4.
The other semi-final will be a blockbuster showdown pitting Djokovic against British world No. 2 Andy Murray, who was seeded third in Shanghai because the seedings were based on a previous week’s ATP rankings list.