Rafael Nadal stormed back into action at the US Open and snuffed out the challenge of Fernando Gonzalez to reach the semi-finals as the rain finally stopped.
Third seed Nadal needed just 32 minutes to complete a 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/2) 6-0 victory over the 11th seed from Chile and set up a semi-final on Sunday against sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Spaniard Nadal, who had lost his French Open title in June and was unable to defend his Wimbledon crown due to tendinitis in both knees, had slipped from number one in the world to third, although with Andy Murray’s fourth-round defeat by Marin Cilic he will move back to number two.
Now he is two matches away from a career Grand Slam, either five-time defending champion Roger Federer or fourth seed Novak Djokovic providing the final opposition should he prevail against Argentinian Del Potro.
Nadal had been leading a by one set to love and was ahead 3-2 in a second-set tie-break, the match finely poised on Thursday before showers brought play to a halt, washing out play completely on Friday.
Yet what had seemed so well balanced a match on Thursday night turned into a one-sided rout as Nadal rushed out of the blocks, taking the tie-break with four straight points as Gonzalez failed to get his forehand going with consecutive errors.
The third set was a total blow-out, Nadal steamrollering his deflated and frustrated opponent.
Gonzalez quickly fell 4-0 behind and called for the trainer as light rain started to fall again. The 11th seed had some treatment on his left foot but when play resumed he was still not remotely ready to put up a fight, slipping to 0-40 in the fifth game by way of a double fault.
A saved break point was greeted by cheers that had more than an element of pity about them before Nadal got his third break of the set.
Both players wanted to get the match over with and they stayed on the court rather than take their seats as Nadal prepared to serve for the match, only to be made to wait by the chair umpire.
It was, as expected merely a stay of execution and Nadal mopped up the match in the best possible scenario to give himself at least 24 hours’ rest before his meeting with del Potro.