Indian Wells (US):
Spanish star Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic remained on course for a mouth-watering Indian Wells semi-final while Swiss Stan Wawrinka exited in a match he described as a no-brainer. World number five Nadal survived a scare from Alexander Zverev, rallying to beat the German teenager 6-7 (8/10), 6-0, 7-5 and reach the quarter-finals.
Two-time defending champion Djokovic cruised into the quarters by beating Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-3 but French Open champion Stan Wawrinka bit the dust in joint ATP and WTA Tour tournament.
Nadal, who saved a match point in the third set, said he had to adjust quickly to 18-year-old Zverev’s style, especially the German’s second serve, which he consistently blasts at speeds of 120 mph.
“With his second serve at 120mph, with a lot of spin and at 124, 123, 120 mph, it was impossible,” Nadal said.
“If he puts the first serve in at over 130 mph then you are in big trouble. So I think that I’m here, and still alive.”
Indeed, Zverev had the 14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal on the ropes for much of Wednesday’s two and a half hour contest and following the match the Spaniard predicted great things for the teen.
“He is amazingly talented. He is probably going to be the number one in the world,” said Nadal after their first career meeting.
The contest on the main stadium court in front of a crowd of about 10,000 turned on match point in the ninth game with Zverev serving and leading 5-3 in games.
Up 40-30, the German then made three straight unforced errors to hand the game to Nadal.
The nine-time French Open winner Nadal then used his experience to seize control and win the final three games and close out the match.
“I am happy about the way I fought and my belief out there that I can win in the toughest situations,” Nadal said. “I was able to find some solutions in tough moments. I was able to play some good points in tough moments.”
Nadal moves on to face Kei Nishikori of Japan, who rallied to beat American John Isner 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).