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Tennis: Nadal survives Sock scare to reach China Open semis

AFP , Friday 9 Oct 2015
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal of Spain reaches for the ball as he plays against Jack Sock of the United States during their men's singles quarterfinal match of the China Open tennis tournament at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (AP Photo)
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Rafael Nadal fought back from a set down to beat hard-hitting American Jack Sock and reach his first hardcourt semi-final in more than a year at the China Open on Friday.

The Spanish great, scrapping to recover his form after a tough year, was frequently outgunned by Sock's howitzer forehand but he dug deep to see off the world number 30, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Nadal's hardcourt semi-final drought had stretched back 10 tournaments to Beijing last year, but he will now play either Fabio Fognini or Pablo Cuevas for a place in Sunday's decider.

On a cold, sunny day, Nadal paid for a slow start when he was broken in the first game. Sock's big forehand kept Nadal under pressure throughout the set which he ultimately yielded with a double-fault.

But the 14-time Grand Slam-winner hit back by breaking first-up in the second set, and he gave a fist-pump of relief and satisfaction when he eventually levelled the match 6-4.

They slugged it out to 3-3 in the third until Sock blinked first, handing Nadal three break points, and for once the American's forehand misfired as he shanked a routine shot high into the stands.

And it was another miscued forehand which settled the quarter-final as Sock, serving to stay in it, hit one long to hand victory to Nadal on his first match point.

Among the later quarter-finals, Beijing's unbeaten five-time champion Novak Djokovic, the world number one from Serbia, is in action against another powerful American, John Isner.

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