Sania Mirza and Cara Black on Friday shocked top seeded Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci to storm into the summit clash of the women’s doubles at the ATP and WTA China Open, extending their unbeaten run to eight matches now.
Sania and Zimbabwe’s Black, who came into the tournament after winning the Tokyo event, swept aside the challenge of formidable Italians 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 12 minutes.
Sania has been doing well consistently despite not getting a long-term partner.
Now she has the opportunity to win her fifth title of the season.
In Friday’s match, converting three of the four break chances in the second set sealed the deal for Sania and Black.
Nadal in last four
Meanwhile, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal said he felt no extra pressure heading into a semifinal which could see him return to the top of the men’s rankings.
The No. 2 seed in Beijing staged an extraordinary comeback against Fabio Fognini in his quarterfinal match to keep alive his hopes of unseating Novak Djokovic at the top spot.
Nadal looked to be heading for a crushing defeat in his quarterfinal after Fognini claimed the first set and powered to a 4-1 lead in the second.
But Nadal broke the Italian’s serve in the seventh game, before winning the next three to take the second set 6-4.
Fognini, who is ranked 19th in the world, won the opener of the third set. But Nadal sealed his passage through to the semifinals by claiming victory in the remaining games to seal the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Reigning China Open champion Djokovic has spent 101 weeks at No. 1, but can only remain top of the rankings if he reclaims his title and if Nadal fails to reach the final.
Tomas Berdych earned his place in the semifinals with a convincing 7-5, 6-2 victory over American John Isner.
Also through to the last four are France’s Richard Gasquet, after the fifth seed sent third seed Spaniard David Ferrer packing 6-3, 6-4.
Easy for Serena
Meanwhile, in the women’s tournament, Serena Williams defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-4.
It was heartbreak for Chinese star Li Na, who lost 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.
Kvitova will face Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals. The Serb defeated Czech Lucie Safarova after an early scare, eventually beating her opponent 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4.
Men: Quarterfinals: Rafael Nadal bt Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-1; Tomas Berdych bt John Isner 7-5, 6-2; Richard Gasquet bt David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4; Novak Djokovic bt Sam Querrey 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles: Quarterfinals: Leander Paes & Daniel Nestor bt David Marrero & Fernando Verdasco 7-6(8), 6-3.
Women: Quarterfinals: Jelena Jankovic bt Lucie Safarova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4; Petra Kvitova bt Li Na 4-6, 6-2, 6-4; Serena Williams bt Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-4; Agnieszka Radwanska bt Angelique Kerber 7-6(7), 6-4.
Doubles: Semifinals: Cara Black & Sania Mirza bt Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-4.