German teen Alexander Zverev makes Rafael Nadal sweat

Rafael Nadal saved a match-point en route to defeating Alexander Zverev of Germany in a thrilling prequarters match.
Rafael Nadal saved a match-point en route to defeating Alexander Zverev of Germany in a thrilling prequarters match.

Indian Wells - Djokovic cruises past Lopez; Wawrinka bites the dust



By AFP

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Mar 2016, 1:57 PM

Spanish star Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic remained on course for a mouth-watering Indian Wells semifinal, 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 quarterfinals.
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 the 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.
"With his second serve at 120 mph, 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. 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.
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 then used his experience to seize control and win the final three games and close out the match. Nadal moves on to face Kei Nishikori of Japan, who beat American John Isner 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5). Djokovic will battle seventh seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic wasted no time avenging the only blemish on his 2016 record. Last month in Dubai, Djokovic retired against Lopez after losing the first set because of an eye infection. Djokovic, who is going for a record fifth Indian Wells title, is now 19-1 this season.
Wawrinka was sent crashing out of the event in the fourth round by David Goffin.
"It was a match without a brain," said Wawrinka, who lost 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) to 15th seed Goffin.
Wawrinka had his serve broken seven times after dropping his serve just once in his previous two matches at Indian Wells.
"I had a tough time staying focused and being patient. I still tried to fight," Wawrinka said. 

Alexander Zverev of Germany put up a sterling performance before losing out to Rafael Nadal of Spain in three sets. — AFP
Alexander Zverev of Germany put up a sterling performance before losing out to Rafael Nadal of Spain in three sets. — AFP

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