Australia’s Nick Kyrgios shocked top seed Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5 to enter the men’s singles semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters tennis tournament.
The 22-year-old Kyrgios, ranked 23rd in the world, now faces another Spanish star in David Ferrer, who upset the hard court event’s third seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-3 on Friday, reports Efe news agency.
Despite Nadal’s defeat on Friday night — his second against Kyrgios in four meetings — he is set to become world number one on Monday.
In the face off between Nadal and Kyrgios, the first set was dominated by the Australian, who managed to break his rival twice — in the first and third games — and managed to wrap it up in just 26 minutes.
The French Open champion started off better in the second set, going 2-1 up after breaking Kyrgios’ serve. But he was unable to take advantage, allowing the Australian to claw back into contention and finally clinch the set 7-5.
The match lasted one hour and 20 minutes, in which Kyrgios fired 10 aces and made five double faults compared to Nadal’s four aces and two double faults.
Nadal won just 46 points compared to 66 by his Australian rival.
In other quarter-final matches, seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria easily prevailed over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-1. He will play the first men’s singles semi-final against 14th seeded American John Isner, who defeated 20-year-old compatriot Jared Donaldson 7-6 (4), 7-5.
The match between Dimitrov and Isner will be the second meeting between them after a second-round clash in the Miami ATP Masters 1000 in 2015, in which Isner had emerged victorious 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Earlier on Friday, Nadal survived a stern test from unseeded compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas to register a 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 victory in a men’s singles third round match.
Kyrgios meanwhile, battled past big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hard court event.
Both Nadal and Kyrgios had to play two matches on Friday because their scheduled contests on Thursday were postponed by rain.
Nadal was unable to make much of an impression on Ramos-Vinolas’ service games in the first set, creating just one break point that he was unable to convert.
Then after cruising through the tie-breaker, the 15-time Grand Slam champion continued to struggle with Ramos-Vinolas at the beginning of the second set.
Nadal, however, found another gear when he erased three break points to even that set at 2-2 and then proceeded to win the final four games to win in an hour and 38 minutes.
Both Nadal, who will return to No. 1 when the new ATP rankings are released on Monday, and Ramos-Vinolas wore black ribbons on their shirts in remembrance of the victims of two deadly terrorist attacks in Spain’s Catalonia region on Thursday and early Friday.
“I’m very happy to be in the quarter-finals,” Nadal was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s website.
“It was a tough match this afternoon against Albert, and now (it will be) another very, very difficult match against Kyrgios. So I just need to be ready to play my best.”
In other men’s action Friday afternoon, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov cruised into the semi-finals with an easy 6-2, 6-1 victory over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita.
The top women’s players also are competing at this event to get their games fine-tuned for the US Open, which begins on August 28.
Also on Friday, Czech top seed and world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova defeated Italian Camila Giorgi 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in the third round and then topped sixth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the women’s singles quarter-finals.
Also advancing to the women’s singles semi-finals was fourth seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, who edged out eighth seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 5-7, 7-5.
In other Women’s singles third round action on Friday afternoon, fifth-seeded Ukrainian Germany’s Julia Goerges beat Elina Svitolina 7-5, 6-4 and American wild card Sloane Stephens battled past Russian Ekaterina Makarova 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.