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Red-hot Nadal tears Russian teener apart to enter men’s semis; Pliskova toppled as No. 1


Rafael Nadal stormed into the US Open semifinals in ruthless manner.

Pardon the adjective but it could be the best word to describe how he hammered 19-year-old Andrey Rublev at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.

The world No. 1 tore Rublev, ranked 53rd, apart in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 demolition as if the Russian just got into the path of Hurricane Irma.

All it took for the Spanish ace to get the job done were 97 minutes to reach the last four.

In that stage, he will face long-time nemesis Roger Federer for the first time in New York if the Swiss Maestro beats Juan Martin del Potro in their quarterfinal meeting which is still to be played as of this writing.

Nadal is a two-time US Open winner, while Federer has lifted the trophy five times.

“It was a good match and his first quarter-final, he played with more mistakes than usual. It was an important victory for me, the last two matches wining in straight sets is good for me,’’ said Nadal after the match. “I’m glad to be in the semi-finals in New York, it means a lot to me.’’

He added: “This year has been emotional, I have been playing very well I think almost every tournament after so many years with injuries, so I appreciate it a lot when you win matches and fight for important titles, especially later in my career – that’s something maybe six or seven years ago I didn’t think about.’’

Earlier, Karolina Pliskova’s reign as No. 1 was ended by 20th seeded Coco Vandeweghe as the latter it three American women in the semi-finals after her straight-set win.

The 25-year-old Vandeweghe clipped Pliskova, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, in the last eight at Flushing Meadows.

Vandeweghe will meet compatriot Madison Keys or Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the last four.

Pliskova’s downfall meant Garbine Muguruza of Spain will be the new women’s world No. 1.

Meanwhile, age does not matter as far as Venus Williams’ current run in the tournament is concerned.

The 37-year-old, the seven-time Grand Slam champion became the oldest semi-finalist in the history of the tournament by ousting two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) on Wednesday.

Aiming for her third US Open crown, the ninth-seeded Williams progressed to a semifinal meeting against 83rd-ranked compatriot Sloane Stephens.

Stephens, who was absent for 11 months due to a left foot injury before returning at Wimbledon, mirrored her best Grand Slam showing by downing Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).