Nadal struggles to overcome Blake in China Open


Beijing : Rafael Nadal broke five times as he struggled before finally controlling James Blake in a battling 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 win into the quarter-finals of the China Open tennis Thursday.

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Nadal was tested by the American who was once a regular member of the Top 10 before a slide this season which has left him on 24th with only a pair of losing finals to show for his 2009 efforts.

Nadal levelled at three wins each in the series, having begun turning the tables after standing 0-3 in 2006.

The tight contest cracked slightly in the final set, with a Blake double-fault giving Nadal a 5-3 lead. The world number two was quickly able to close it out and get off court after nearly two and a half hours.

Croatian Ivan Ljubicic put out the man who stunned holder Andy Roddick in the first round, beating Polish qualifier Lucasz Kubot 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-4.

On the women’s WTA side, 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli, the 14th seed, advanced over China’s Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-4. At number 226, the 20-year-old was the lowest-ranked player to beat a world number one when she knocked out Dinara Safina this week.

Serena Williams, who will re-gain the top spot on Monday as a result of the development, was later playing Russian 13th seed Nadia Petrova.