Rafa sizzles en route to Japan Open semis

Tokyo: Rafael Nadal had to dig deep after coming under heavy fire from Colombia`s Santiago Giraldo in a brutal 7-6, 6-3 quarterfinal victory at the Japan Open on Friday.

While never in serious danger of losing his Tokyo title, the top seed survived a barrage before unleashing a late salvo of his own to come through in a shade over two hours.

Giraldo, the world number 53, went down swinging, continuing with his strategy of going for broke on almost every shot in a pulsating match on centre court.

Nadal, resplendent in his new-look purple T-shirt, secured the first set tiebreak 8-6 with a heavily sliced first serve which tied Giraldo up in knots.

The Spaniard then broke early in the second, but Giraldo had clearly not read the script and threatened to climb off the canvas and strike back at 5-3 down by forcing a break point.

Nadal looked rattled but responded with a superb running forehand which nibbled the edge of the line before striking a gunslinger`s pose and letting out a yell of "Vamos!"

A packed crowd, wrapped in coats and blankets against the late afternoon chill, erupted when Nadal finished the job after his opponent went for too much and hit a wild forehand wide.

Fourth seed Mardy Fish awaits Nadal in the semifinals after the American fought back to beat 18-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.

Bureau Report

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