Crowd favorite rafael nadal has stormed into the semifinals of the ATP tennis tournament at hamburg’s rothenbaum and has subsequently held out the prospect of a return to the davis cup for spain.
"Yes, if the captain wants me, i was happy to play," the 29-year-old said on friday. Nadal had been abstaining from the competition for two years. The iberians meet danmark in the relegation match. Not yet in top form, but nevertheless the 29-year-old won clearly in 1:12 hours with 6:3, 6:2 against pablo cuevas from uruguay.
"I tried to play more consistently than in the first days," said the former world number one, who liked the slightly improved weather: "it almost reminds me a bit of mallorca," joked the 2008 hamburg winner.
Nadal faces andreas seppi of italy, who entered the preliminary round without a fight due to simone bolelli’s gastrointestinal illness. Italy’s fabio fognini and french qualifier lucas pouille meet in the second semifinal of the 1.285 million euro event. The 2013 rothenbaum winner won 6-4, 7-5 against british aljaz bedene on friday. Pouille beat his compatriot benoit paire 6:3, 6:2.
Nadal came into the match well with a break, unlike the first two matches in hanseatic city. Cuevas never lost his respect for the nine-time french open winner.
The few long sand court rallies thrilled the 7500 spectators at the sold out center court. Under the eyes of his cousins toni (12) and juan (11), nadal, who is looking for his top form, won round one in 45 minutes. Same picture in the second set: cuevas made many unforced errors, nadal pulled away to 4:1. "I’m happy to be in the semifinals, I feel very comfortable here," said nadal.
Nadal’s coach and uncle had warned against the sudamerican and expected a much closer match. "He’s a good player on sand courts," said toni nadal about the world number 31. His nephew is struggling through the year so far. "Tennis is not complicated. When the head works, the results come," said the coach. Nadal is physically in better shape than he has been for years, but his self-confidence has suffered badly as a result of defeats such as in the second round of wimbledon against dustin brown from winsen/aller.
In a week-long sabbatical, nadal retired to mallorca. His uncle reported that they had worked a lot, also with video. With a tournament win on sunday, the former "sand court king" can climb one position to ninth in the world.