Fish topples Nadal to reach semi-finals

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Mardy Fish claimed his first career victory over Rafael Nadal on Friday, beating the weary Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the ATP’s Cincinnati Masters.
Nadal, the world number two and second seed, had battled through three tiebreakers over three and a half hours to beat Fernando Verdasco. He was also still playing with two burned fingertips of his right hand heavily taped. Fish made the most of his opportunity, saving all four break points he faced as he avenged a quarter-final loss to Nadal at Wimbledon. Fish, who has risen to seventh in the world, said a successful summer season that has included a title in Atlanta and finals appearances at Los Angeles and Montreal had him feeling more confident against Nadal this time. It was a handy feeling when he went down two break points in his first service game.
“I played him at Wimbledon. I served the opening game. I lost serve in 45 seconds at 15, and wasn’t unbelievably surprised,” Fish said. This time around, Fish said, even when he went down 15-40 he believed he could come back to claim the game. “It’s just that small belief that I really felt like I could win. Not that I wanted to win, I really felt like I could and maybe should win in that scenario.” Nadal got off to a sluggish start, his winners scarce amid an uncharacteristic display of unforced errors that eventually totalled 20. He was more animated in the second set, but could still find no real answer for Fish’s dominance at the net, where the American won 16 of 19 points. Fish, who has yet to be broken in the tournament, finished with 32 winners and a dozen aces. He zinged a cross court forehand past Nadal on match point to seal the victory. “You know, he’s a big, huge hurdle,” Fish said of finally beating Nadal in his seventh attempt. “He’s going to go down as one of the best players ever, and it would be pretty cool to tell my kids one day that I beat Rafael Nadal.”
The American seventh seed faces another top tier opponent in the semi-finals in world number four Andy Murray, who cruised past France’s Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-3. On the women’s side of this US Open tune-up, fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova rolled into the semi-finals for the second straight year, beating Australian Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-2.