Nadal primed to face Isner in Beijing

FALLEN STARS::Former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova became the latest high-profile casualty, following the exits of Garbine Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska

AFP, BEIJING

Fri, Oct 06, 2017 - Page 16

Rafael Nadal yesterday said he was braced for the “huge” serve of John Isner after Spain’s world No. 1 bulldozed his way into the China Open quarter-finals.

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, saw off young Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3 to set up a last-eight clash with Isner in Beijing.

The in-form American, the sixth seed, is renowned for his booming service game and Nadal expects to come under a barrage today.

Isner was impressive in blasting his way past Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-0, 6-3.

“Tomorrow will be a tough one against Isner, he’s playing unbelievably well,” Nadal said. “I saw him today, he played so aggressive, having a lot of success, hitting a lot of winners, returning very well.”

“Everybody knows that he serves huge and it is so difficult to break him, but if you add that he is playing very well now from the baseline, he is one of the toughest opponents you can meet,” he added.

Nadal, 31, the top seed and coming off the back of a third US Open title, saved two match points against Frenchman Lucas Pouille in his opener in Beijing.

However, he was always in control against Khachanov, 21, breaking him in the fourth game of the first set on the way to a routine victory.

Later yesterday, Czech Tomas Berdych fell to a 6-1, 4-6, 1-5 defeat to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

In the women’s singles, former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, seeded fourth, became the latest high-profile casualty on Beijing’s outdoor hard courts, going out in the third round to unseeded Sorana Cirstea.

Cirstea follows fellow Romanian Simona Halep into the quarter-finals after the second seed sent Maria Sharapova packing on Wednesday.

Cirstea, ranked No. 44 in the world, stunned Czech Pliskova 6-1, 7-5 to reach the last eight.

She is next to play Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the French Open champion, after China’s top player, Peng Shuai, retired with a knee injury at 3-0 down in the first set.

Peng, 31, said she had been having injections to ease the pain and her right knee was heavily strapped, but she could not play on.

“The doctor suggested I should take a period of rest and get it treated, but I can only rest after the season, that’s the plan,” world No. 25 Peng said.

World No. 1 Garbine Muguruza and reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska are both out, leaving world No. 2 Halep as the favorite in the Chinese capital.

Also into the quarters are Caroline Garcia, who defeated French compatriot Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1, and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic.

Garcia is in red-hot form after winning the Wuhan Open title on Saturday.

Additional reporting by staff writer