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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Nadal sets up Dimitrov semi-final clash at China Open as Halep closes in on No 1 ranking

All the latest from the ATP and WTA Tour events in China and Japan.

Rafael Nadal salutes the crowd after his win over John Isner in the China Open quarter-final on Friday. Wu Hong / EPA
Rafael Nadal salutes the crowd after his win over John Isner in the China Open quarter-final on Friday. Wu Hong / EPA

ATP China Open

World No 1 Rafael Nadal tamed big-serving American John Isner 6-4, 7-6 to surge into the semi-finals of the China Open on Friday.

The Spaniard, on course for a sixth title this season, faces Grigor Dimitrov in the last four on Beijing's outdoor hard courts after the Bulgarian third seed dispatched Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 4-6, 6-2.

Nadal, 31, described Isner's serve as "huge" on the eve of their quarter-final, and he came under the expected barrage before he grabbed the crucial break of serve in the ninth game of a tight first set.

Isner, seeded sixth, blasted 11 aces in the opening set but Nadal punished him at the first sniff of an opportunity.

The second set was even tighter, until Nadal stepped up another gear in the tie break.

WTA China Open

Simona Halep in action against Daria Kasatkina. Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
Simona Halep in action against Daria Kasatkina. Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

Simona Halep took a step nearer to overhauling Garbine Muguruza as world No 1 when the Romanian raced into the semi-finals of the China Open on Friday.

The second-ranked Halep eased past Russia's unseeded Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in 69 minutes and will face Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko in the last four in a rematch of the French Open final.

Muguruza's short stay at the top is under severe threat after she bowed out in the first round in the Chinese capital with a virus.

Halep is in great form, beating former world No 1 Maria Sharapova in the previous round.

ATP Japan Open

Marin Cilic made light work of Ryan Harrison. Toru Yamanaka / AFP
Marin Cilic made light work of Ryan Harrison. Toru Yamanaka / AFP

Big-serving Croatian Marin Cilic sent down 11 aces as he took less than an hour to advance to the semi-finals of the Japan Open with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of American Ryan Harrison.

Top seed Cilic won 20 out of 21 points on first serve and faced no break points as he demolished Harrison in 52 minutes.

Cilic, runner-up to Roger Federer at this year's Wimbledon, faces the winner of Friday's last quarter-final match between local favourite Yuichi Sugita and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Cilic will be hoping to go one better than last season in Tokyo where he lost in the semi-final to Belgium's David Goffin.

Cilic's conqueror Goffin may yet lie in wait in the final after he battled back from a seemingly impossible first-set position against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Goffin found himself 5-3 down and facing three set points against the former world No 7 before coming through 7-5, 6-2 in Tokyo.

Goffin now faces eighth seed Diego Schwartzman from Argentina, who put an end to the impressive run of world No 46 Steve Johnson.