BEIJING — Rafael Nadal suffered another early loss when he fell to Grigor Dimitrov for the first time 6-2, 6-4 in the China Open quarterfinals on Friday.
Nadal’s only two singles titles of the year were in April, and he hasn’t reached a final since because of a left wrist injury, illness, and poor play.
Dimitrov lost all seven of his previous matches against Nadal, but the Spaniard was struggling on serve this time. The first five games were breaks, and Dimitrov held first for 4-2.
Nadal was broken a fifth straight time to start the second set, but fought to the end to stay in touch with Dimitrov, who earned his third top-10 win of the year.
“I’m pretty happy with that win,” Dimitrov said. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve played Rafa quite a few times. So many times I was close or a couple of times I was cramping. There was just always something happening. Today, I just played an excellent match. Simple as that. I’m proud. A lot of the work is paying off.”
The second-seeded Nadal said he hoped to regroup next week for the Shanghai Masters.
“Grigor … deserved to win,” Nadal said. “Losing five serve games is something you can’t do to win a match like this.”
Andy Murray advanced to the semifinals by beating fellow Brit Kyle Edmund 7-6 (9), 6-2.
The top-seeded Murray hit 12 aces and saved three of four break points to set up a semifinal against David Ferrer. The fifth-seeded Spaniard beat Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-7 (4), 6-1, 7-5.
Murray trailed 5-2 in the tiebreak and saved a set point at 6-5 before finally converting his fifth opportunity to claim the first set.
Edmund broke for 2-0 in the second set, but Murray went on a six-game run to win.
“He made it very tough for me,” Murray said. “He’s improving at a solid pace now. His ranking is moving in the right direction. He’s getting there.”
Third-seeded Milos Raonic beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-4, and will next face Dimitrov.