Wed, January 28, 2009
Sports > Tennis & Golf > Australian Open tennis tournament

Nadal, Verdasco set up all-Spanish clash at Australian Open semis

2009-01-28 12:58:41 GMT2009-01-28 20:58:41 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after men's singles quarterfinal match against Gilles Simon of France at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan. 28, 2009. Nadal won 3-0 (6-2, 7-5, 7-5). (Xinhua/Han Yan)

Fernando Verdasco of Spain returns the ball during men's singles quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan. 28, 2009. Fernando Verdasco won 3-1(7-6, 3-6,6-3,6-2). (Xinhua/Zhou Lei)

MELBOURNE, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- World number one Rafael Nadal and countryman Fernando Verdasco both triumphed over French opponents in the quarterfinals on Wednesday for an all-Spanish men's singles semifinal at the Australian Open.

Nadal, the French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic champion, needed two hours and 28 minutes to beat Frenchman and sixth seed Gilles Simon.

Simon, who reached first Grand Slam quarterfinals, looked in a different league while facing a rampant Nadal.

The Frenchman did hit more winners in the match, registering 42to his name against 29 from Nadal, but he committed too many unforced errors with 41 compared to just 24 from the Spaniard.

After losing the first set 6-2, Simon raised up his game a little bit but he still could not match the powerful Spaniard, who played solid game to claim next two sets 7-5, 7-5.

Spanish No. 14 seed Verdasco continued his inspired run at the Melbourne Park by defeating fifth seed and last year's finalist Jo- Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and reached his first Grand Slam semifinals.

The left-hander, who upset fourth seed and pre-tournament favourite Andy Murray of Britain in a five-set thriller, will crack into the ATP top 10 for the first time.

Just like what he did in the Murray clash, Verdasco again showed great resilience when under pressure, facing 13 break points against Tsonga but was only broken on two occasions.

Having led his country in the absence of Nadal to victory over Argentina in Davis Cup finals last year, Verdasco admitted that the Davis Cup experience affected him a lot.

"That Davis Cup changed my life so much and gave me a lot of confidence and mentally made me much stronger for these matches here," he said.

"It's a Grand Slam and there are five sets match and a lot of pressure. That tie against Argentina makes me grow up and more like a tennis player."

Now Verdasco has the chance to cause another upset in the semifinals where he takes on compatriot Nadal.

"What I'm thinking right now is that I'm playing good. I'm feeling good. Anyway, I don't have pain in any part of my body. I'm feeling pretty good. And that's the most important thing," Verdasco said.

"Now my next round is gonna be against Nadal. Somebody always told me Murray is the tournament favorite, but as for me, Rafa is the toughest player in five-set matches.

"I believe in myself so much about my game, I'm feeling pretty good, and I just think that I can beat anyone. But, you know, the same way that I can win, I can lose. I'm playing the best players in the world."

In the woman's quarterfinals, American second seed Serena Williams came back from the brink of elimination to defeat Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 5-7, 7-5, 6-1. She will in the semifinals face Russia's world number four Elena Dementieva.

The Russian outclassed unseeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2 earlier on a sweltering noon.

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