Rafael Nadal kept alive his hopes of claiming the top ranking from Novak Djokovic by securing a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the quarter-finals of the China Open.
The Spaniard was down by one set and a break (6-2, 4-1) before upping his game with a timely service break.
From 4-1 down, Nadal rattled off five games on the bounce- including a crucial seventh game- to level the match before he cruised through the decider.
The 19th seed Fognini saved five break points before Nadal, who needs to reach the final in China to displace Djokovic after 100 weeks a the top of the ATP ranking list, overpowered him.
World number two, Nadal, broke the Italian three times in the decider. He will now face the winner of the match between John Isner and Tomas Berdych.
On Thursday, Novak Djokovic clung on to his top ranking by beating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the second round of the Beijing Open.
Defeat for the Serb would have enabled Nadal to replace him a the top of the ATP rankings, but Djokovic overcame a blip to beat Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.
The 26-year-old three times winner of the China Open will face American Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s draw, there were victories for top seed Serena Williams and third seed Agnieszka Radwanska.