Nadal Sets Seppi Hamburg Clash

Rafael Nadal continues his quest for a 47th clay-court title on Friday in Hamburg

Top seed Rafael Nadal cruised into the semi-finals of the bet-at-home Open on Friday in Hamburg as he defeated fifth seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-2.

The Spaniard broke serve five times from 11 opportunities and won 70 per cent of his service points to claim victory in 72 minutes. It was Nadal’s second victory over Cuevas in two meetings this year, having also beaten the Uruguayan in the Rio de Janeiro quarter-finals in February.

"I played I think 90 per cent of the match doing the right things, doing the right shots every time and waiting for my moment," said Nadal. "I think I created some problems for him when he was trying to hit a winner. I think I changed well the direction."

The 29-year-old Nadal is playing in Hamburg for the first time since 2008, when he lifted the trophy with victory over Roger Federer. The left-hander is looking to win his third ATP World Tour title of the season, following success in Buenos Aires (d. Monaco) and Stuttgart (d. Troicki).

Andreas Seppi will be Nadal’s semi-final opponent after the Italian was given a walkover into the final four when Simone Bolelli withdrew due to gastroenteritis. Seppi will contest his third Hamburg semi-final (also 2008 and 2010) and will look to overturn a 1-5 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Nadal. His lone victory came seven years ago on indoor hard court in Rotterdam.

"He’s a great player," said Nadal of Seppi. "He’s a very consistent player that has very, very solid shots from the baseline and changing very well the direction. I will try to let him play not comfortable and let’s see if I’m able to do that."

Qualifier Lucas Pouille broke Benoit Paire's seven-match winning streak for a place in the semi-finals. World No. 85 Pouille was solid on serve in a 6-3, 6-2 win over the seventh-seeded Paire, who lifted his first ATP World Tour title at Bastad (d. Robredo) on Sunday. 

"I knew it would be tough. I was prepared for it," said Pouille. "I succeeded in playing my best tennis today. It was a very good day. This will improve my ranking a lot. It's been a great week and I'm hoping to get to the final."

Pouille goes on to face eighth seed Fabio Fognini, who defeated Great Britain’s Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 7-5 in 89 minutes. The Italian saved set point in the 10th game of the second set before breaking Bedene and clinching victory.

The 28-year-old Fognini is through to his first semi-final since February, when he finished runner-up to David Ferrer in the Rio de Janeiro final. The right-hander is bidding to win this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament for the second time, having lifted the trophy in 2013 (d. Delbonis).

"I'm happy to be in the semi-finals again here," said Fognini. "I'm happy about my performance because I was playing good tennis, especially with my forehand. I have another day tomorrow to try and improve my game and try to play my second final in Hamburg."

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