Nadal keeps hopes of No. 1 spot alive

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Rafael Nadal of Spain gestures following his win against Fabio Fogini of Italy during their men’s quarterfinals match at the China Open tennis tournament in
Beijing. AFP PHOTO

BEIJING: World No. 2 Rafael Nadal staged an extraordinary comeback in his China Open quarterfinals match on Friday, keeping alive his hopes of unseating Novak Djokovic at the top of the men’s rankings.

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The Spanish No. 2 seed in Beijing looked to be heading for a crushing defeat after Fabio Fognini claimed the first set and powered to a 4-1 lead in the second.

But Nadal broke the Italian’s serve in the seventh game, before winning the next three to take the second set 6-4.

Fognini, who is ranked 19th in the world, won the opener of the third set, but Nadal sealed his passage through to the semifinals with victory in the remaining games.

Nadal is aiming to unseat Djokovic at the top of the men’s rankings by making the finals in Beijing.

Current China Open champion Djokovic can only remain on top if he reclaims his title and if Nadal fails to win his semifinals against either American John Isner or Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych.

Nadal has not lost a hardcourt match all season.

The China Open reaches its climax on Sunday.

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