Rafael Nadal’s Asian swing gathered further momentum on Thursday with the eighth seed posting a 6-3, 7-6(3) triumph over Canada’s Milos Raonic at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. After reaching his first hard-court final of the season last week in Beijing, Nadal registered his first win over a Top-10 opponent in six attempts to reach the quarter-finals. His last was against World No. 7 Tomas Berdych at ATP Masters 1000 Madrid.
The 2009 Shanghai runner-up broke Raonic’s opening service game for 2-0 when the No. 9 seed fired a forehand well wide. He maintained the advantage to serve out the opening set with Raonic dumping a backhand return into the net on set point.
“Today, I felt that I was not playing with as much nerves when I am on court,” said Nadal. “I was able to enjoy the match.”
Nadal scored the early mini-break in the second-set tie-break for 1/0. He surged to 5/2 and whipped a forehand passing shot winner to bring up four match points. He secured the match on his second chance when Raonic’s forehand hit the net. The win extended Nadal’s FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Raonic to 6-1 and avenges a quarter-final defeat the last time the pair met at ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells this year.
“Winning a match 7‑6 in the third yesterday and winning a match again today in the tiebreak of a second set, two tiebreaks without losing a point with my serve, it’s impossible if you don’t have control of your emotions. That’s something that, a couple of months ago, would have been impossible for me,” added Nadal.
“My serve obviously worked much better than yesterday, but when I play well on my service game, it’s not just because I serve well, but especially because I play well from the baseline,” said Nadal, who has not dropped serve since being broken by Ivo Karlovic in the opening game of the second round.
Nadal’s quarter-final foe will be Stan Wawrinka, who needed nearly three hours to overcome Marin Cilic, 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-4. The Swiss came away with the first set by break his opponent on the final point, but squandered a match point in the second-set tie-break before closing out the win in three. The Spaniard leads the rivalry 12-2, but Wawrinka has not dropped a set in the pair’s past two meetings (2015 Rome and 2015 Australian Open).