(October 3, 2014) Less than a week ago Slovakia’s Martin Klizan was down a set and 1-5 in the qualifying tournament for the China Open to a player ranked No. 927th in the world. On Friday, Klizan bounced back to beat 14-time major champion and No. 2 seed Rafal Nadal 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of Beijing.
For Nadal, in his third match back from a tight wrist injury, it was his first loss to a qualifier since 2004, when he fell to Julien Benneteau in Lyon.
Nadal was up a set and a break, before the flat, hard-hitting Klizan became more consistent with his strokes. Nadal hit 37 errors with just 21 winners.
Nadal said her was not playing well – “when one player plays bad, plays without rhythm, no confidence on the shots, having more mistakes than usual, being not confident how to play the points and how to win the points, that happens, no?, Nadal said.
“I was not playing well. But I had 7‑6, 4‑2, breakpoint for 5‑2, then he play more aggressive, and I play bad mistakes. That’s it.
“When you are playing bad, the opponent is able to push you in some moment of the match like he did, is normal that he has a better chance than me to win the match. That’s it, no?
“I say it the other day. I coming back from an injury. As I say the other day, is not the perfect conditions for me to come back. Probably is the most difficult part of the season because different facts that I spoke about the other day.”
For Klizan, it was the win of his career.
“Before we played two times, one time in Roland Garros and one time in Wimbledon,” Klizan said. “Both matches we played in four sets. I lost. This one was also, you know, very close match. The previous ones was also very close.
“You know, I don’t know, Rafa is a big star, he’s a big player. He was still up. He was set up and break. You know, I had nothing to do, but I was just fighting.
“I’m just so proud of myself that I could win today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to play semifinal. It’s my first semifinal in ATP 500 tournament.”
“I think my tennis is now great,” Klizan continued. “I think I can beat anyone on tour. For me this victory, that was the best night in my life. I’m just very happy that I beat Rafa. He’s a legend. I’m just very happy that I beat a legend.”
“I came here to two tournaments knowing that normal things that happen like today are going to happen, Nadal said of his return to the tour. “Accept that. Is practice here. Shanghai, even if it’s a Masters 1000, today I cannot think about big things. I have to think about day by day, trying to do the best as possible to do again quick. But I need time.”
Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych advanced to the semifinals. The top-seeded Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4, Murray beat U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-4 and Berdych knocked out his Beijing doubles partner John Isner 6-1, 6-4.