RAFA Nadal has battled his way through to the semi-finals in the Chinese Open after beating Russian player Marat Safin in two sets by 6-3 and 6-1.
The Mallorca-born tennis ace is the only Spaniard at the Open, which is being held in Peking.
During Friday’s match, observers say Safin became unnerved and made 15 mistakes, losing the first set to Rafa and paving the way for his victory.
Rafa says he is pleasantly surprised with his own performance, taking into account the lack of time he has had to train and that he arrived in China with the bare minimum of preparation.
He says he is not sure he is playing at 100 per cent of his abilities, but that he feels ‘much better’ than he did during the US Open.
After the match, Moscow-born Safin received a standing ovation from the 12,000 spectators.
He has already announced that he will retire following the Masters in Paris.
Rafa’s next match will be against the Croatian player Marin Cilic, eighth in the favourites list, who beat Russian fourth-favourite Davydenko 6-4 and 6-4 in the two sets of the quarter finals.