The third-seeded Nadal took advantage of an embarrassing collapse by No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez at the U.S. Open on today to put away his quarterfinal, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-0.
Next up for Nadal is a semifinal Sunday against No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro. The other men's semifinal pits No. 4 Novak Djokovic against No. 1 Roger Federer, who is seeking his sixth consecutive U.S. Open title.
Though Nadal's sore abdominals are still a concern, any worries about Rafa being overtaxed in this match, as he headed into what could be a very long weekend, all but vanished.
"I'm OK," Nadal said. "I have only a little bit of a problem in the abdominal. That's it."
A match that had been a taut, well-played affair got postponed Thursday night with Nadal leading 3-2 in the second-set tiebreaker. They had to wait out an entire day of rain before coming back to the court to resume under overcast skies and temperatures in the 60s.
This was not more of the same.
Gonzalez opened the tiebreaker by spraying three forehands out, then pounded Nadal's serve into the net on set point. He lost two more points to start the third set before finally getting on the board. But after dropping the first game, the Chilean, back in the Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2002, chucked his racket toward his chair en route to the changeover.
"When you come back in one situation like today, anything can happen, because it's a little bit of a lottery depending on the first two points," Nadal said. "The important thing is to be ready to accept everything, and try to arrive there knowing what to do."
Nadal did. Gonzalez didn't.
And it kept getting worse for Gonzalez. Even a medical timeout to have tape cut off his ankles couldn't stop this slide.
Final numbers: 59 unforced errors for Gonzalez to 13 for Nadal; Nadal won 31 of the 43 points played after the restart. The whole affair took 34 minutes to wrap up.
"Fernando had a few more mistakes than the last day," Nadal said. "That helped me a little more."
The women's semifinals, also pushed back a day because of the rain that shut down the tournament Friday, were scheduled for later today. Yanina Wickmayer was scheduled to play No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki in the afternoon, with Kim Clijsters going against No. 2 Serena Williams in prime time both in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
But shortly after the Nadal match, the rain started again and delayed the men's doubles final that was to precede the women on Ashe.
The weather and the easy match were all a welcome respite for Nadal, who has been dealing with the sore stomach muscles throughout this tournament.
"It was important to have one day off to recover a little better," he said. "Today, I feel well."
One indication of how he's really feeling may have come earlier in the day, when he withdrew from Spain's Davis Cup semifinal this month.
Next comes his match against Del Potro with a trip to the final on the line. Nadal, who needs the U.S. Open to complete a career Grand Slam, leads the head-to-head series 4-2. But del Potro, the 6-foot-6 Argentine, has won the last two meetings, both outdoors on hard court this year.
"He's good. I think he's a complete player, and it's always the same thing," Nadal said. "Try to be ready to put one more ball (back) than the rest."