NEW YORK – Rafael Nadal took advantage of an embarrassing collapse by No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez at the U.S. Open on Saturday to put away his rain-delayed quarterfinal 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-0.
Next up for Nadal is a semifinal Sunday against No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro. Any concerns about Rafa and his sore abdominal muscles being overtaxed heading into a weekend made longer because of the rain have all but vanished.
Kind of like Gonzalez's game.
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.
It kept getting worse, and 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 Saturday. 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."
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, though del Potro has won the last two meetings, both outdoors on hard court this year.