Beijing, China (SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning champion and three-time overall titlist Novak Djokovic and red-hot superstar Rafael Nadal were a pair of quarterfinal winners Friday at the $2.315 million China Open.
The top-seeded world No. 1 Djokovic cut down 6-foot-6 American Sam Querrey 6-1, 6-2 in a mere 52 minutes, while the second-seeded former No. 1 Nadal came from behind to beat pesky Italian Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 on the hardcourts at the National Tennis Center.
Nadal was one point away from trailing Fognini 2-6, 1-5 on Day 5 before mounting a dramatic comeback.
The U.S. and French Open champion Nadal would supplant Djokovic atop the men's rankings with a victory over Tomas Berdych here on Saturday. The super Spaniard already owns a whopping 10 titles on tour this year and is currently riding a 20-match winning streak.
"It's something that doesn't create more pressure for me," Nadal said. "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. It's the semi-final match of a big tournament, I am going to try to be competitive and try to play my best tennis. If not, I am going to have no chance to be through. It is not the moment to think about No. 1; it is the moment to think about Berdych."
Nadal is a dominant 15-3 lifetime against Berdych, who lost to the mighty Spaniard in the 2010 Wimbledon final. Nadal is 3-0 versus the Czech slugger this season.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, who was the China Open champ back in 2005, was last ranked No. 1 in July of 2011.
The Australian Open titlist Djokovic's opponent in Saturday's semifinals will be fifth-seeded U.S. Open semifinalist Richard Gasquet.
Friday's other quarters saw Gasquet upend third-seeded French Open runner-up David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4 and a fourth-seeded Berdych top eighth-seeded American John Isner 7-5, 6-2. The 2011 China Open champion Berdych was a runner-up in Bangkok last week. Ferrer was the 2010 Beijing runner-up to Djokovic.
The 2013 China Open titlist will earn $557,100.