Rafael Nadal digs deep, tames Sock for place in semis

Nadal was more consistent than his American opponent, making 25 unforced errors to Sock’s 35.

Rafael Nadal reached his first hard-court semifinal of the year by outlasting Jack Sock of the United States 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 at the China Open on Friday. The third-seeded Spaniard had lost before the semifinals in seven previous hard-court tournaments in what has been a disappointing season. His last title on hard courts came in Doha, Qatar, in January 2014. Nadal was more consistent than his American opponent, making 25 unforced errors to Sock’s 35. After dropping serve twice in the opening set, he only faced one more break point, which he saved. “For sure, be in semifinals here is a very positive result for me in a very tough tournament, and be able to at least play four matches here is great news for me,” he said. Next up for Nadal is Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who has beaten him three times this season, including in the third round of the U.S. Open. Fognini advanced with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 win over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. “When you play against a great player, especially if you don’t play to your best, your chances are lower,” Nadal said. “Fognini play better in the three matches that he beat me. I was not unhappy at all after the US Open loss. I didn’t play a very bad match.” In the women’s quarterfinals, Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky rebounded to defeat Sara Errani of Italy 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 to move within one win of cracking the top 10 for the first time in her career. Errani was a point away from taking a 6-0, 3-0 lead in the match when Bacsinszky suddenly came back to win nine of the next 10 games to win the second set and go up 3-0 in the third. “I looked at my coach and I told him, `Yeah, well, maybe it’s going to be the first day when I’m going to get double bagel,” Bacsinszky said about the possibility of losing 6-0, 6-0. “I was ready for that.” Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak at the China Open to 27 matches with a 6-2, 6-2 demolition over big-serving American John Isner on Friday. The world number one was in devastating form, conceding just three aces in a masterclass performance to reach the semi-finals in Beijing. The Serbian is chasing his sixth title in Beijing and his seventh this year, which already includes the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships. His next opponent is Spain’s David Ferrer, who won the Malaysian Open last week. Ferrer eased into the semi-finals with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun. Another final for Sania, Hingis Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis are just a win away from clinching their eight title of the season as the duo entered the final of the women’s doubles event. The top seeded Indo-Swiss pair recorded an easy 6-2, 6-3 victory over the wild card Chinese duo of Chen Liang and Yafan Wang in the semifinal, which lasted one hour and six minutes. Stan, Kei in Tokyo last 4 Tokyo: French Open champion Stan Wawrinka sailed into the semi-finals of the Japan Open on Friday with a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Austin Krajicek. Wawrinka, who has already won three titles this year including his second Grand Slam in Paris, needed just 50 minutes to defeat Krajicek. The Swiss will play Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller on Saturday after he upset French third seed Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4 in the quarter-finals. Kei Nishikori fought back to beat Marin Cilic 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to record his second successive win against the player who beat him in last year’s U.S. Open final. Nishikori, who won his home tournament in 2012 and 2014, set up a showdown with Frenchman Benoit Paire for a place in Sunday’s final.