Nadal escapes Zverev as Indian Wells quarter-final line-ups decided
By Ros Satar – In Indian Wells
- Rafael Nadal  taken to three sets by Alexander Zverev 6-7(8) 6-0 7-5
- Stan Wawrinka  plays tennis ‘with no brain’ as he loses to David Goffin 6-3 5-7 7-6(5).
- Milos Raonic beats Tomas Berdych  as he returns to form 6-4, 7-6(7)
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Rafael Nadal escaped the upset bug of the day as the top seeds fell at the BNP Paribas Open, as the men’s quarter-finals were decided.
It was a three-set thriller and the German teenager Alexander Zverev so very nearly delivered the upset as the kid Nadal calls a ‘future World No. 1’ took the battle to the Spaniard and may well be haunted for a match-point miss for a while to come.
The path to the top is of course paved with painful extremes of ecstasy and pain. The ecstasy came as Zverev was aggressive from the outset, breaking Nadal to take an early lead, before Nadal put him back in his place.
Pushing on to a first set tie-break, the first set point fell to the German, before Nadal dug deep to bring up two set points of his own, with some inspired hitting from his young opponent. The momentum was turning the young German’s way as he coaxed a couple of errors from Nadal, to take the first set.
Angering the bull is never advisable. Nadal roared back, breaking Zverev three times in a row to serve up a bagel to the youngster but that did not break his spirit.
Zverev and Nadal traded breaks before Zverev was serving for his biggest career win, but rushing points with nerves, he botched an easy put-away volley on match point, to lose his serve as Nadal completed the fight back from 3-5 down to breaking him twice in a row before serving the match out to love.
It was a third heartbreaker of a match in a row, and a painful rite of passage for the German.
He said, after the match: “On match point I sucked, so that was it. I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match. That’s what happened.
“In the last three weeks I lost 7-5 in the third to Berdych; 6-4 in the fifth to [Tomas] Berdych; and 7-5 in the third with match point to Nadal. So I know how tough losses feel right now. This is painful right now, but, you know, it doesn’t change anything about the process.”
Nadal, who has not always looked his previous invincible self, was pleased to have come through a tough chance, admitting that he had lost a good few matches in the past from a winning position.
“I’m very happy about [the win]. I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations.”
Previously in the day David Goffin looked on the way to an easy win over an out of sorts Stan Wawrinka, taking the first set easily, before the Swiss woke up to put a halt to Goffin serving for the match twice in the second set and a miss on a par with young Zverev gave Goffin the match point he had been toiling form 6-3 5-7 7-6(5).
Milos Raonic seemed to find the kind of form that took him to a win over Roger Federer in the season opener in Brisbane, and the Australian Open semi-final as he closed down sixth seed Tomas Berdych quite effectively in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(7).
Raonic said, after the match: “I just tried to compete and get better with each match. I have been fortunate to do so. I give myself now a chance tomorrow with three matches behind me to play even better, and I know I’m going to need to.”
Goffin v Marin Cilic, and Raomic v Gael Monfils will take place on Thursday.