Nadal rallies in tiebreaker to beat Verdasco at Indian Wells

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 16, 2016 10:29 AM
Nadal rallies in tiebreaker to beat Verdasco at Indian Wells
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after defeating Fernando Verdasco, of Spain, during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer


INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Rafael Nadal survived a wild tiebreaker to beat Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 7-6 (9) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

The three-time Indian Wells champion saved five set points in the tiebreaker and finally closed it out on his second match point when Verdasco's backhand sailed beyond the baseline.

"Feel lucky to win the tiebreak, and at the same time I think at the end of the tiebreak I played well with not many mistakes and going for the points," Nadal said.

Verdasco has had the upper hand against his fellow Spaniard and doubles partner in the last few years, having won three of their previous four matches, including a five-setter in the first round of the Australian Open in January after Nadal beat him 13 straight times to start the rivalry.

Serena Williams rolled past qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-2, with the world's No. 1 player hitting 26 winners offset by 22 unforced errors in her second Indian Wells appearance since 2001.

Four-time champion Novak Djokovic and Roberta Vinci, who spoiled Williams' Grand Slam bid in last year's U.S. Open semifinals, were to play later matches.

Verdasco owned triple set point, but frittered away his advantage with consecutive errant forehands and could only stab in the air as Nadal's crosscourt backhand whizzed by to tie it 6-all.

Verdasco's backhand error set up Nadal's first match point and his first serve was called out, but he successfully challenged it and the review showed it ticked the line, tying it 7-all.

It was tied twice more before Verdasco's double fault gave Nadal a second match point and it ended on another error. Verdasco's 19 winners were just one more than Nadal. He averaged 115 mph on his first serve to 108 for Nadal.

"Normally he serve better than me," Nadal said. "In this kind of match I have more to lose than him, so he's able to play very aggressive. He has amazing shots. He arrives to the tiebreak and you know you're in trouble."

Nadal advanced to the fourth round against Alexander Zverev, who beat 16th-seeded Gilles Simon, 6-2, 6-2. No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori edged Steve Johnson, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6) and next plays another American, John Isner, who beat Adrian Mannarino, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

In another all-Spanish match, Feliciano Lopez outlasted Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-4. Dominic Thiem earned his ATP Tour-leading 22nd win of the year, beating Jack Sock, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1.

In women's fourth-round matches, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated 2010 winner Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 6-3, and Petra Kvitova defeated qualifier Nicole Gibbs, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Defending champion Simona Halep advanced when Barbora Strycova retired trailing 6-3, 1-0 because of illness.

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