Rafael Nadal blasts organizers despite reaching ATP Cup semi-final



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Rafael Nadal blasts organizers despite reaching ATP Cup semi-final

Arriving late in Sydney, the Spanish team had to make quick adjustments to the humidity and the court different from the one they ruled in Perth, facing Belgium in the quarter-final of the ATP Cup. The Belgians played their three group-stage ties in Sydney as well and they were ready to challenge the Davis Cup Finals champions from start to finish, losing 2-1 despite a heroic effort in all three encounters.

Thus, Spain joins Russia, Australia and Serbia in the semis, facing the home nation on Saturday and hoping to reach back-to-back finals of the leading team competitions. In the first clash, Roberto Bautista Agut remained perfect against lower-ranked rivals, beating Kimmer Coppejans 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 30 minutes to send Spain in front.

Roberto lost serve once in the second set, overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the second set and fending off break chances in the eighth game to seal the deal in straight sets. The Spaniard claimed the last five games of the first set for a flying start, wasting break opportunities at the beginning of the second set and suffering a break in game two to find himself 3-0 down.

Roberto pulled the break back in game five, surviving that testing game eight and delivering another break to move 5-4 up. Serving for the match, world no. 10 held at 30 to seal the deal and move Spain closer to the place in the last four.

In the second singles match, David Goffin defeated Rafael Nadal for the second time in a career, delivering an incredible level of tennis to celebrate 6-4, 7-6 and keep Belgium in contention. It all came down to the doubles encounter where Rafael Nadal and Pablo Carreno Busta ousted Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-7, 7-5, 10-7 to prevail and propel Spain into the semis.

It was a mighty close battle from start to finish, with one break of serve in the entire clash and the pressure that consistently went from one side to another. Returners were unable to reach deuce in the first set, with Gille and Vliegen who fended off one set point in the tie break to take it 9-7.

Pushing even harder, they had two break chances on Nadal's serve in the eighth game of the second set, failing to convert any of those and falling 6-5 down when the Spaniards broke them at love in the 11th game. Serving for the set, Nadal repelled another break chance to set the deciding match tie break where there were no mini-breaks in the first eight points.

Rafa and Pablo delivered one at 4-4 to open a 7-4 lead, converting the third match point at 9-7 following a double fault from unlucky Belgians to prevail and stay on the title course. "David played a great match, much better than me.

I was suffering a lot physically as the humidity was very high," Nadal said. "At the same time, it is fair to say that we are in the worst position to play the final eight because we had to come from Perth. There is three hours time change, different weather conditions, playing against a team that has been here for the last ten days, and we are the only team coming from Perth and playing until the last day before arriving here during the evening with jet lag and everything. We had very heavy conditions out there today; it was probably the worst possible situation to play this tie."