Rafael Nadal extends winning streak to 14, improves to 63-9 in 2017

By @saihoops on
Rafael Nadal, Shanghai Masters
Tennis - Shanghai Masters tennis tournament - Shanghai, China - October 12, 2017 - Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his win against Fabio Fognini of Italy. Reuters / Aly Song

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal continued his magical 2017 on Thursday when he knocked off Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-1 in a Round of 16 match at the Shanghai Masters. With the victory, the Spaniard extended his current winning streak to 14 and improved his overall 2017 record to 63 victories and 9 losses.

After storming past American Jared Donaldson in the first round on Wednesday, Nadal looked almost invincible against Fognini. He opened up a 3-0 lead while losing just six service points in a 31-minute first set. The second set wasn't any different as the southpaw broke immediately to strengthen his lead. Though Fognini earned two break points at 1-3, Nadal bounced back and finished the match in 62 minutes. 

Nadal will now face sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals on Friday. Earlier in this year, Dimitrov pushed Nadal to a classic five-set contest in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer breezed past Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (4), 6-4 in his first-round match on Wednesday. Federer is participating in the ATP Masters 1000 event after skipping last week's China Open in Beijing. Federer is currently Nadal's sole threat to the World No. 1 crown ahead of next month's Nitto ATP Finals at London.  

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer headed for another showdown

"I knew going in it was not going to be easy because he's had a great run the last few weeks, months. He was confident. He was shaking off misses, no problems. He was serving well, making the right decisions. He was confident and as an opponent you can feel that. I felt that today it was going to be dangerous down the stretch of every set," Federer said after his victory. The Swiss Master will face Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in his Round of 16 match on Thursday.

As aptly explained by ESPN, Nadal has the opportunity to seal the World No. 1 ranking (for 2017) with a victory at the Shanghai Masters. "Nadal and Federer are both in contention for the season-ending No. 1 ranking, although only Nadal can clinch that honour this week. Nadal will be guaranteed to retain the No. 1 ranking through the end of the season if he wins his first career Shanghai title and Federer loses before reaching the semi-finals."

Rafael Nadal has the opportunity to finish the year as the World No. 1 for this first time in his illustrious career, after 2008, 2010 and 2013. After starting the year with a host of injury concerns, Nadal has flipped the script by prevailing at the French Open and U.S. Open to improve his Grand Slam tally to 16.