Nadal cruises into semis

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 11:56 AM ET

BANGKOK, Thailand -- World No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal was an easy quarterfinal victor Friday at the Thailand Open.

The reigning U.S. Open, Wimbledon and French Open champion blew past Russian Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2, 6-3 on the hardcourts at Impact Arena. Nadal moved on in 71 minutes, holding his serve throughout, to reach his 11th semifinal of the season.

The high-flying Nadal improved to a brilliant 61-7 for the year and is seeking his seventh title of the year.

This marks Nadal's first action since he won the U.S. Open last month and became the first man in 41 years to capture three straight Grand Slam titles in one calendar year.

The 24-year-old Nadal arrived in Thailand to a hero's welcome last week, as he was greeted by government and sports officials when he landed in Bangkok.

Nadal's semifinal opponent on Saturday will be fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who upended fourth-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3 on Day 5.

Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen posted an upset by ousting third-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), while one other quarterfinal saw Benjamin Becker handle fellow German Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2. Becker was a finalist here three years ago.

Nieminen and Becker will square off in Saturday's other final four bout.

The winner of this $608,500 tournament will claim $99,725.


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