It was the tennis equivalent of No Mas. A day and a half following the rain, Rafael Nadal finished off Fernando Gonzalez in the continuation of their men’s quarterfinal.
The charismatic 23 year-old from Mallorca took back his No.2 ranking, barely breaking a sweat in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-0 win advancing to a second consecutive U.S. Open semifinal where he’ll meet a well rested Juan Martin Del Potro tomorrow for a place in the final versus either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.
A competitive quarter which had Nadal in front 7-6, 3-2 in a second set tiebreaker Thursday night suddenly became a tuneup for Nadal, who allowed his wild opponent to wilt under the pressure. In fact, Gonzalez didn’t get another point in the tiebreak dropping both points on his serve with dreadful forehands before Rafa closed the set out.
Unfortunately, Gonzalez’ biggest weapon let him down to the tune of more than half his 59 unforced errors. It only got worse as he unraveled in the third set disappointing the Session 23 Ashe spectators who returned hoping for a much better conclusion. After a double fault handed Nadal a break in the opening game, the flustered 29 year-old slammed his racket in disgust.
It wouldn’t get any better as he committed 20 miscues in a set that saw him get bageled with even an injury timeout to remove tape from his ankles unable to stop the bleeding. By comparison, the much more consistent Nadal made only 13 errors all match. The problem for Gonzalez was that he kept going for too much with the ball flying on him in different conditions. So, Rafa was content to keep rallies going allowing his struggling opponent to come undone in an ugly set that had fans feeling sorry for Gonzo.
The lowlights included a sloppy forehand half volley way wide for another break and fittingly ended with another forehand into the net as Nadal got off the court in just 33 minutes.
“Fernando had a few more mistakes than the last day,” Nadal said after pulling within a win of a possible date against Federer with plenty of work still to be done for both. “That helped me a little more.”
That such a promising match turned into a worst nightmare for the poor 11th seeded Chilean who will still move up in the rankings was too bad. He just couldn’t deal with the elements breaking down in front of his Dad who by the end looked down, feeling for what his son experienced.
For Nadal who admitted to CBS’ Mary Joe Fernandez that the extra rest was the best thing for his abdominal strain, it was a best case scenario.
“It was important to have one day off to recover a little better,” he pointed out. “Today, I feel well.”
Though he’s nursing the injury and faces a tough opponent who beat him last month in Montreal 7-6 (1), 6-1, the feisty Spaniard who’s trying to complete a career grand slam might even be fresh for the rematch on the big stage. However, it should be a much harder test than how today finished. At the very least, the Open will have a first time finalist in the battle between Spain’s best and Argentina’s which may as well be a Davis Cup match.
Expect a fun atmosphere along with an entertaining brand of tennis.