Gritty Nadal battles into Shanghai semi-finals

Gritty Nadal battles into Shanghai semi-finals

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.

Just as in China Open final, Nadal needed to battle through a three-setter to shrug off the challenge of the Bulgarian, winning 6-4 6-7 6-3.

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 19-time Grand Slam champion will now cross swords with Richard Gasquet of France for a place in the semi-finals.

Dimitrov began his bid to upset Nadal in confident fashion, and it wasn't until after he had saved three break points at four games apiece that he finally conceded serve and his opponent launched a forehand victor down the line.

The Croat did maintain his own ideal set record on Friday after beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 6-3, 6-4, and he'll be looking to add another Spanish conquest to his record when he faces Nadal in Shanghai on Saturday. World number 5 Marin Cilic won his 39th match of the season, beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas by 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes for his 7th semi-final of the season.

Cilic was broken for the first time in his 29th service game of the week at 3-3 in the second set by Ramos-Vinolas.

Nadal leads Cilic 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including victories in their past four meetings.