ATP China Open semi-final preview: Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov

Watch as Rafael Nadal greets the smiling ball kids of the 2017 China Open in Beijing. Video China Open

Eighth-seeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia advanced to the semifinals when Steve Darcis of Belgium retired from the match with a neck strain while trailing 6-0, 3-0.

Rafael Nadal said he was braced for the "huge" serve of John Isner after Spain's world No. 1 bulldozed his way into the China Open quarterfinals Thursday.

Nadal went into the contest having never suffered defeat to the big-serving Isner but as expected, it was a fiercely-competitive clash with just one break of serve occurring during the clash.

Top seed Marin Cilic eased into the semi-finals of the Japan Open with a 6-2 6-0 victory over Ryan Harrison.

'Just something came to my eye, that's all, ' said Nadal of the injury that appeared to be impairing his vision.

"I think on return I did well".

"He is a player that I really like, a good friend on the Tour", Nadal said of Dimitrov.

Juan Martin del Potro stormed into round two with a 7-6 (4) 6-4 win over Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas and will face third seed Grigor Dimitrov, who battled past Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-1 3-6 6-3.

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"Not important, (but) I am still feeling (it) a little bit by the way", Nadal, who attempted to wash the suspected fibre out with water, added with a smile.

Last year's match saw Dimitrov break the Nadal serve five times and he spoke of his delight with the triumph: "I'm pretty happy with that win, " Dimitrov said. Let's see. I going to try to play my best.

Simona Halep is on the cusp of overhauling Garbine Muguruza as world number one after the Romanian raced into the semi-finals of the women's draw.

There's a reason he's world number one.

"I think Grigor is a player always with a great attitude, with a positive character".

Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic, faces Caroline Garcia of France in the other semi-final.

'I played very well, changing good directions...

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