Firstpost Spodcast Episode 36: Rafael Nadal's hard-fought win, Yuki Bhambri's Davis Cup withdrawal and more on our daily sports podcast

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost. On today's episode, we discuss defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal's win over Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals, Yuki Bhambri's withdrawal from the Indian Davis Cup team, coach Ravi Shastri praising the Indian cricket team and more.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal overcame a stiff challenge from world number 9 Dominic Thiem to win his quarterfinal match. It was an epic quarterfinal that lasted 4 hours and 49 minutes. Thiem won the first set 6-0. This was only the fourth time in his career that Rafael Nadal found himself at the receiving end of a 0-6 first set. Thiem scored 24 of the 31 points in the first set! However, Nadal clawed his way back into the match, winning a thrilling five-setter 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 to proceed to the semi-finals.

Rafael Nadal will face Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Kei Nishikori of Japan reached the semifinals after defeating Marin Cilic in another five-set quarterfinal. The final score read 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 in Nishikori's favour. Nishikori will face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. The Serbian defeated John Millman in straight sets in the quarter-finals.

The 2018 US Open is also the first time a Japanese man and woman have reached the last four in the same Grand Slam. Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese woman in 22 years to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam after her win over Lesia Tsurenko in the last eight of the US Open.

Some Davis Cup news now. India's leading singles player in men's tennis, Yuki Bhambri, pulled out of the Davis Cup World Group Play-off against Serbia due to injuries. Divij Sharan, who had won the men's doubles gold at the Asian Games with Rohan Bopanna, suffered a tear in his shoulder and has pulled out as well. Bhambri's knee injury flared up at the US Open where he had lost in the first round to Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France.

Sumit Nagal declined to join the team as a standby. AITA selection committee chairperson SP Misra said Nagal has chosen to play Challenger tournaments during that period.

Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore promised surgical precision in the distribution of funds to athletes preparing for the 2020 Olympics. He claimed that centralisation of the process has removed bureaucratic hurdles. Rathore said, "We have very clearly and very professionally divided our working between grassroots and elite sportspersons. The elite athletes are being looked after by a different set of professional people so that there is no bureaucracy."

Cricket news now, and India's head coach Ravi Shastri claimed the current team is travelling better than Indian teams of the last 15-20 years. Shastri said, "I can't see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years that has had the same run in such a short time, and you have had some great players playing in those series. So the promise is there, and it's just about getting tougher mentally."

Shastri also spoke about Alastair Cook, who will retire after the fifth Test match against India. He praised the former England captain, saying, "He's been one of England's greatest cricketers - no question… playing in these conditions for that length of time, where the ball does move and it's a challenge for an opening batsman - I think he's been simply outstanding."

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Updated Date: Sep 06, 2018 11:47:05 IST