By Erwin Ong
CINCINNATI – The excitement around the grounds of the Lindner Family Tennis Center slowly grew as matches unfolded on Friday afternoon, all in anticipation of the 2013 Western & Southern Open quarterfinal match-up between fourth seed Rafael Nadal and fifth seed Roger Federer.
The packed Center Court was treated to a high-quality battle, with neither player facing a break point until 5-all in the first set, when Federer broke Nadal with a winner. The Swiss eventually took the first set 7-5, but Nadal broke Federer’s serve both late in the second set and early in the third set to eke out a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory in this meeting, the 31st of their careers.
"Roger did a lot of things very well," said Nadal after the match, giving plenty of credit to his longtime rival. And Federer, in his assessment of the loss, was also satisfied with his play. "I did pretty well and felt good out there, serving well particularly for most of the match," Federer shared.
Nadal advances to the semifinals to face sixth seed Tomas Berdych. Nadal has won 14 of 17 meetings against the Czech, including the two played this year, at Indian Wells and Rome. "His serve and his flat shots are very, very dangerous," noted Nadal about Berdych’s game. Because the Spaniard’s last two wins have come in the evening session, he will also have to adjust to the court conditions of a daytime match.
In the final match on Friday, World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6(5). Azarenka will face Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals. Jankovic, a former World No. 1, advanced earlier in the day by beating Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-4.
The other women’s semifinal will have Serena Williams competing against Li Na, the defending champion. Williams made quick work of Simona Halep with a 6-0, 6-4 quarterfinal win over the Romanian. Halep had a good run at this event, with upsets over seeds Marion Bartoli and Samantha Stosur.
In men’s doubles, Mike and Bob Bryan swept aside fellow Americans James Blake and Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-4, which sets up a semifinal against Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Scott Lipsky, also an American.
Earlier on Friday, the other men’s teams booked their semifinals: Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin ousted Stepanek and Paes to face Spaniards Granollers and Lopez.
In women’s doubles semifinals, the tandem of Hsieh and Peng, seeded third, ousted second seeded Russians Makarova and Vesnina 6-1, 2-6, [10-3]. In the final, they will face the team of Groenefeld and Peschke, who beat Goerges and Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets