Rafael Nadal eases into semi-finals at Thailand Open

Friday, October 1, 2010
World number one Rafael Nadal continued his superb recent form by strolling into the Thailand Open semi-finals.
The Spaniard, who won his ninth grand slam at last month's US Open, overpowered Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets, 6-2 6-3.
It marked Nadal's ninth straight match win, and he said: "It was a much better performance than in the last round."
The 24-year-old is the only seed left in the competition after Ernests Gulbis later lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
The Latvian fourth seed came up short in the first-set tie-break before levelling it up in the second, but ultimately was undone by Spaniard Lopez 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-3.
He now faces compatriot Nadal, who - despite completing a career Grand Slam with that win at Flushing Meadows in September - says he can still improve.
"I'm not the best tennis player yet," he insisted. "Winning and losing depends on how I prioritise. I just want to enjoy it and become a better player year by year."
Unseeded Jarkko Nieminen and Benjamin Becker booked their places in the semi-finals after impressive runs in a tournament decimated by early exits for top-ranked players.
Finland's Nieminen beat third-seeded Austrian Juergen Melzer 6-3 7-6 to set up a semi-final with Becker, the 2007 finalist, who outplayed fellow German Daniel Brands 6-4 6-2.
Nieminen, the world number 60, put his form down to a recent change in coach and improvements to a game he said had stagnated.
"We've worked on a lot of things, especially the serve, and everything takes time to take shape," he said.
"I'm 29 now and I have been doing the same things for a long time, so it takes a while to implement changes into my game but I think I am serving better than ever now."
Those who made early exits in Bangkok included second seed Fernando Verdasco, former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Serbian Viktor Troicki.


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