Nadal, Federer on collision course in Shanghai

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return during his men’s third round singles match against Fabio Fognini of Italy at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2017
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Nadal, Federer on collision course in Shanghai

SHANGHAI: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer breezed into the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters on Thursday and Juan Martin del Potro defeated racquet-smashing Alexander Zverev.
World No. 1 Nadal blew away Fabio Fognini in 63 minutes and plays sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov as he pursues one of the few tournaments to have eluded him.
Timeless rival Federer was even faster, dismissing Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-2 in 61 minutes.
The 31-year-old Spaniard Nadal, fresh off the back of triumphs at the US Open and China Open, anticipates a tough encounter against the Bulgarian Dimitrov.
“I played a very good match, I don’t know how many mistakes I made, but very few,” said the 16-time Grand Slam winner and top seed in Shanghai.
“I have a tough match against Grigor and know I will have to play my best... but I am playing well.”
Nadal, enjoying a late-career flourish, defeated good friend Dimitrov on his way to winning the China Open on Sunday, his sixth title of the season.
And he underlined his status as the man to beat in Shanghai as he battered the Italian Fognini 6-3, 6-1.
Dimitrov, chasing a spot at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, beat American Sam Querrey to set up a Chinese reunion with Nadal.
Federer, the Swiss world No. 2, plays Richard Gasquet in the last eight on Friday after Gasquet outlasted fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon in a marathon three-setter.
A mouthwatering Nadal-Federer final on Sunday awaits if the celebrated pair continue at the current rate.
Gutsy Del Potro recovered from a set down to win 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 against rising star Zverev and will play Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, after he beat John Isner in the final match of the day.
The talented 20-year-old Zverev was going after his sixth title of a breakthrough season and was comfortable in the first set against Argentine Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion and 16th seed.
The German prodigy and the 29-year-old, whose career has been beset by injury, went toe to toe in the second set and the tie break was just as tight until Del Potro grabbed the crucial mini-break.
And then came the turning point — and a flash of anger from third seed Zverev — as he yielded the crucial service break to go 3-2 down in the third set.
“Right now I’m very pissed off, as you can probably tell,” said Zverev afterwards, having smashed the racquet on the court, then trodden on it, and brutalized it further as he stomped back to his chair.
A fan at least came away with a demolished racquet for a souvenir after the young German handed it to a spectator.
“I don’t understand how I can lose a match where I get broken one time in three sets and not managed to get any chances on his serve,” said Zverev, who is tipped to one day make world number one.
“I’m a bit pissed off because I feel like I played well and that’s the upsetting part of it — I could have done great in this tournament.”
Del Potro, pushed to the brink of retirement by four wrist surgeries that saw his ranking slip as low as 1,045 at one point in his career, said Zverev would learn.
“I saw his frustration, for sure... But I think he’s still very young and he needs to keep learning, as he’s doing now,” said the Argentine, 23 in the world.
“He has everything to be in the top positions in the future, but these things happen.
“Remember when Roger (Federer) was young? He broke racquets too.”
Fourth seed Marin Cilic and Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas go head to head in the other quarterfinal.


India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash

Updated 19 September 2018
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India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash

  • Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan collapsing
  • Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday

DUBAI: India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their long-awaited Asia Cup match which failed to live up to its hype in Dubai on Wednesday.
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at Dubai Stadium.
Skipper Rohit Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year -- the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.
Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan meet in Abu Dhabi in the last Group B match on Thursday, having already qualified for the second round after Sri Lanka crashed out.
The top two teams from the Super Fours will play the final in Dubai on September 28.
Once Pakistan's unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday's match turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd comprising of Indian and Pakistani expats living in the United Arab Emirates.
Kumar ran through the top order by dismissing openers Imam-ul-Haq (two) and Fakhar Zaman (nought) inside five overs, before Babar Azam (47) and Shoaib Malik (43) rebuilt the innings during their 82-run stand for the third wicket.
But after Azam was dismissed in the 22nd over, bowled by left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Pakistan lost their last seven wickets for 77 runs.
Azam hit six boundaries in his 62-ball knock while Malik, dropped on 26 by MS Dhoni off Hardik Pandya, cracked one six and one four in a vigilant innings which lasted 67 balls.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (six) became Jadhav's first wicket, holing out to long-on where substitute fielder Maneesh Pandey completed a brilliant catch, throwing the ball back into the field to avoid running over the rope and completing the catch.
But it was Malik's run out which derailed Pakistan, sent back by Asif Ali after setting off for a quick single.
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah took 2-23 but India lost all-rounder Hardik Pandya to injury.
Bowling his fifth over, Pandya fell in his follow through and was stretchered off with a lower back injury, the extent of which was being assessed by the India team's medical staff.