Federer, Nadal in Indian Wells quarters


Indian Wells (California) : Roger Federer stretched his career domination of Fernando Gonzalez at the Indian Wells Masters while top seed Rafael Nadal dodged a bullet in a close call with long time nemesis David Nalbandian in a thriller completed early Thursday.

Support TwoCircles

Second-seeded Federer paced defending champion Novak Djokovic into the quarter-finals, winning his 12th out of 13 matches against Gonzalez 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

But 2007 winner Nadal earned his first win after two defeats against beefy Argentine Nalbandian, saving match points in the second set to escape 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-0.

After a tight start, the top seed ran away with the third set to conclude in the wee hours after nearly three hours on court. The round of golf Nadal had planned for later in the day could well be replaced by some rest after winning the marathon.

Djokovic, seeded third, advanced on a match point decided by the Hawk-Eye electronic line-calling system, narrowly defeating Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (8-6).

“It was a big challenge coming back in the second set. Winning the two tie-breakers against a tough opponent was quite a struggle,” said the Serb winner.

“I don’t think I played great, but I waited for the chance and used it.”

Federer continued his mastery of Gonzalez. “I enjoy playing Fernando because it’s so tactical,” said the 13- time Grand Slam winner.

“But at the same time it’s brutal and aggressive. You think you have a slight chance to win the point, and then you realise, no, there’s none. It’s pretty interesting with him.

“At 30-love up, he doesn’t care if it’s a forehand or backhand coming his way. He’s just going to rip it anyway. We’ve played on many occasions, so we know each other’s games very well. I think that’s always fun to play somebody like that.”

Federer’s only loss to Gonzalez came in round-robin play at the Masters Cup two years ago in Shanghai. But the Swiss re-established superiority last year in the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

Fourth-seeded Briton Andy Murray, chasing his third title of the season, had it easy in just 50 minutes as Spanish 15th-seed Tommy Robredo retired due to a wrist injury to hand over a 6-2, 3-0 win to the Scot.

“Mentally, a wrist problem can be tough,” Murray said.

“I’ve been through it. It’s not so much hitting the ball that’s worrying. It’s just the pain that’s there and feeling like, you know, something might happen.”

Spain’s Australian Open semi-finalist and 10th seed Fernando Verdasco advanced into the last eight with a defeat of German Philip Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Verdasco’s win over Kolhschreiber came after a 1-3 record against the German.

“The Australian Open helped me so much when I won against Murray and (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga, and then also the match against Rafa. All that made me feel that I can play and I can beat these top players,” said Verdasco.

In women’s play, Victoria Azarenka denied top seed Dinara Safina the chance to move closer to a possible number 1 ranking with a 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-3 upset, while Vera Zvonareva reached her third semi-final of the season with a defeat of Dane Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2.

“It’s my first semi-final of such a big tournament, and I was just very happy, because it was a tough match,” said Azarenka. “I was almost losing it, and I pulled it off, so I was just very happy because I was fighting from the first to the last moment.”