Nick Kyrgios of Australia upset top-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-2, 7-5 Friday night to advance to the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Kyrgios won the first four games of the opening set en route to reaching his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final of the year (Miami) and first in Cincinnati. Less than seven hours after rallying past Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 to complete their rain-delayed third-round match, Kyrgios needed just 80 minutes to oust Nadal.
“He obviously is a tough match always,” said Nadal.
In the second set, Nadal fought off a pair of match points while serving at 5-3 and one more with Kyrgios serving for the match at 5-4. Nadal would break for 5-all, but Nadal errors helped Kyrgios return the favor and he served out the win with his 10th ace of the match.
“Nick is a great player, but I played poorly,” Nadal said. “I started the match well and then I played a very bad game in the second set when he broke me. I played some good points. He had some mistakes and I was able to be back in the match. And then I played a terrible game.”
Kyrgios will face Spaniard David Ferrer in the semifinals. Ferrer upended third-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-3.
Grigor Dimitrov cruised into the semifinals with a resounding 6-2, 6-1 victory over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita.
The seventh-seeded Bulgarian broke the 46th-ranked Sugita at the onset of the first set to claim a 3-0 lead and twice to begin the second to surge to a commanding 5-0 advantage.
Dimitrov’s serve kept Sugita at bay, as the former lost just five points and did not face a break point. He highlighted his convincing victory with a diving hot shot volley despite holding a comfortable 4-0 lead in the second set.
“It’s a good feeling, for sure,” the 26-year-old Dimitrov said after the 52-minute match. “It’s a good feeling. I like playing in Cincinnati. I love that center court, as well. I think all that brings me good memories and just a positive way of thinking when I come out there on the court.
“I think that was about it, to be honest. I didn’t think I did anything spectacular except playing the game the right way today. Just glad to get off court for about an hour. Save some energy and prepare for tomorrow.”
Dimitrov advances to face 2013 tournament runner-up John Isner, who bounced fellow American Jared Donaldson 7-6 (4), 7-5 in 90 minutes.
Isner recorded 25 aces and won an impressive 90 percent of his first serve points against the 20-year-old Donaldson.
“It was a tough match,” the 32-year-old Isner said. “I knew it was going to be very tough. I thought the conditions were tricky. There were certainly some shadows on the court and it was pretty windy as well.
“… Moving on to tomorrow, I should be feeling good. Just looking forward to that. Against Grigor, he’s playing well this week. He’s won some matches pretty easily. I think physically both of us should be coming into this match both feeling pretty good, not too haggard. We both should have a lot of confidence as well. So it’s going to be a tough match. Very well could be my toughest match. It’s one that I’m looking forward to and I know he is.”
Ranked 19th in the world, Isner is bidding to return to the Cincinnati final for the first since falling to Nadal four years ago.