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Rafael Nadal had to struggle through another three-set challenge before beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 on Fri
day to reach the Rotterdam Open semi-finals.

The world number one has been taken to three sets in all three rounds this week, but the Spaniard said his game was improving on this fast, indoor surface.

“This was definitely my best match of the week,” said Nadal after two hours, 40 minutes in a contest where Tsonga fired six aces.

“Tsonga just came from winning a tournament and was extremely tough. This was a very important win for me. I’m so glad to be in my first semi-final here.”

The Australian Open champion had chances in the second set to wrap up a quick victory, but couldn’t convert.

A 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker went begging as Johannesburg champion Tsgona reeled off six consecutive points his way to levelling at a set each.

Nadal finally got on top with a break for a 2-0 lead in the third set, but promptly handed it back. A double-fault from Tsonga set up a match point, which Nadal converted.

Nadal will face either Gael Monfils or Julien Benneteau on Saturday for a place in the final.

Andy Murray produced a 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 3-0 victory over French opponent Marc Gicquel, who pulled out with a hamstring injury, and then suggested a plan to try and change the new drug-testing regime.

The Scot continued to quietly rail at the new demands from international anti-doping bodies that top 50 players report their location for one hour per day every day of the year in case drug testers want to pay a surprise visit.

“I read somewhere that some Italian football teams are simply refusing to do it (report),” he said. “Sometimes things have to happen for a change to be made.

“At least 95 percent (they met in Melbourne before the Australian Open) are against the system. We’re not against drug testing, we’re against having to report your location every single day.

“If everyone signed something (to protest) maybe something could be changed. I don’t see them banning 90 of the top 100 players.”

Murray will next meet Croatia’s Mario Ancic, who put out 2007 champion Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-2.

Ancic, ranked 28th, has lifted two of his three career titles in the Netherlands and was a Rotterdam semi-finalist four years ago against Roger Federer.

After two years of illness and injury, the 24-year-old is finally starting to believe that his run of rotten luck has ended.

“I really believe that it’s all behind me now. It’s now up to the hard work and the comeback. I’m full of confidence,” added last week’s Zagreb finalist against countryman Marin Cilic.

Ancic managed nine aces and saved all seven break points he faced against Youzhny, the Rotterdam winner in 2007.


October 2018
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