Nadal advances to semis against Federer

Rafael Nadal rallied to beat Nikolay Davydenko 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday and set up a Masters Cup semifinal against top-ranked Roger Federer.

James Blake topped the Gold Group despite losing 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 to Tommy Robredo later Friday in the last round robin match.

Blake opened the season-ending championship with wins over No. 2 Nadal and No. 3 Davydenko and had secured a semifinal against defending champion David Nalbandian before the Robredo match.

Nadal had more to play for against Davydenko, and took a while to get rolling.

Friday's win was "my best performance in a long time," Nadal said. "I won a very, very difficult match against the No. 3 in the world, and in his best performance. It was one of my best wins of the year."

He let Davydenko dictate from the baseline in the first set, who used fast, flat ground strokes to work him side to side. But Nadal varied his game in the second, using more slice and top spin to force Davydenko to run.

Two games after winning the second set, Nadal needed a medical time out to massage and tape his left knee. Nadal said it was a bone spur, and it did not appear to hinder him. He closed out the match when Davydenko's forehand went out.

Blake saved match points in the eighth and 10th games of the second set and came back from 5-2 down, but pulled a forehand wide after Robredo earned his third match point with a backhand winner.

Blake said it was a luxury knowing who and when he was playing in the semis before the semis.

"It's definitely a good feeling going into that last match knowing that no matter what happens, you already know your opponent, you know what time you're playing, and you know that it's not Roger Federer.

"Unfortunately, I didn't take that positive energy and turn it into a win, but tomorrow's another day."

Blake has never played Nalbandian, but said he's aware of the danger that the Argentine player presents.

Nalbandian lost to Federer and Ivan Ljubicic before beating Andy Roddick to qualify for the semis. He also lost to Federer in the round robin here last year before producing an upset over the Swiss star in the final.

Nadal is 6-2 overall against Federer, and the only player in the elite eight-man draw with a winning record against him.

Despite soreness in his left knee, Nadal said he's in good shape and confident he'll be fit for Saturday's semifinal against Federer.

Federer, aiming for his fourth consecutive Masters Cup final, won all three matches to finish atop the Red Group.

He is on a 27-match winning streak and will be more confident on hard courts against Nadal and with an extra day of rest.

Federer ended a five-match losing streak against the Spaniard when he beat Nadal in the Wimbledon final.

That was the last time Nadal reached the semis.

Despite winning five titles in six finals, he decided he needed to work on being more aggressive with his serve and forehand. He believes it's starting to pay off.

"To be in the semifinals is very important for me," Nadal said.

It was the first meeting between Nadal and Davydenko, who has won five titles in 31 events.

Davydenko faded in the deciding set against Nadal, as he did after leading Blake by a set and break before losing.

"I was fit, was feeling great," Davydenko said. "Then came some long rallies. That's when I was feeling a little bit tired and did some mistakes. That's when I started losing."

In doubles matches Friday, second-seeded Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi finished the Gold Group round-robin stage unbeaten with a 6-3, 7-6 (7) win over Fabrice Santoro and Nenad Zimonjic.

Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor also advanced 6-3, 6-3 over Poland pair Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski.

In the semifinals, Bjorkman-Mirnyi will face Martin Damm and Leander Paes, while Knowles and Nestor take on Red Group winner Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world