Nadal works hard for victory
Rafael Nadal was given a massive scare by Fabio Fognini before reaching the semi-finals of the China Open with a 2-6 6-4 6-1 win.
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An upset appeared to be on the cards as Fognini moved into a 6-2 4-1 lead.
However the Spaniard came storming back in impressive fashion - with the match ultimately hinging on the seventh game of the second set.
Fognini saved five break points before finally succumbing to Nadal's power - although the world number 19 did himself few favours by rushing his shots.
From 4-1 down, Nadal rattled off five games on the bounce - including the crucial seventh game - to level the match before he raced through the decider.
Nadal, the second seed, broke the Italian three times in the third set as the wheels well and truly came off Fognini's challenge.
The Spaniard will now face Tomas Berdych, who beat John Isner in straight sets, in Saturday's semi-finals knowing victory will see him return to the world number one spot for he first time since 2011.
Nadal said on www.atpworldtour.com: "It's something that doesn't create more pressure for me. It's something that already happened in the past. If that happens again, it will be good, it will be special for me, but we'll see.
"I am going to have a very tough opponent in front of me. In the end, it's another match. True, it's a little bit more special for the circumstances, but nothing else."
Even if Nadal did lose to Berdych, he would still take over as number one unless Novak Djokovic defended his title.
The Serbian was in devastating form, beating America's Sam Querrey 6-1 6-2 in only 52 minutes.
His semi-final opponent will be Richard Gasquet, who repeated his US Open victory over third seed David Ferrer, winning 6-3 6-4 to boost his chances of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.