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Nadal Assures Quarterfinal Appearance at Sony Ericsson Open

Rafael Nadal withstood a stern challenge from Japan’s Kei Nishikori but ultimately vanquished the latter 6-4, 6-4 to secure his sixth straight quarterfinal showing at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Last year, these two had a second round encounter in Miami. Nishikori coming back from injury and ranked 62nd at that juncture gave the Spaniard quite a battle. Now at a career high of 16 and a quarterfinalist in Australia this year, the first Japanese player achieve this feat, Nishikori is beginning to realize his promise.

Nishikori drew first blood breaking Nadal and building a 2-1 advantage. Promptly though, Nadal cashed in on a break chance of his own.

Later after holding for 5-4 and calling the trainer to address a bothersome left knee which had to be taped, Nadal broke Nishikori to bank the opening set.

With Nishikori’s volley traveling long, Nadal had double break point in the second set. After capitalizing, the Spaniard went on to comfortably guard serve extending his lead to 3-0.

Nevertheless, Nishikori would not be discouraged. By holding serve, he forced Nadal to serve for the match at 5-3.

By being aggressive, Nishikori provoked Nadal into a forehand miscue resulting in break point. A charitable net cord permitted Nishikori to convert and stay alive at 4-5.

Swiftly though Nadal himself was on the attack and an error by Nishikori led to match point. But, Nishikori survived.

When Nishikori struck a forehand crosscourt wide, Nadal had his third match point. As the Japanese’s forehand sailed long, Nadal moved on to the next round after two hours and eleven minutes.

Subsequent to the match, Nadal was frank in citing that it was not easy “the beginning was very tough for me. I started playing more aggressive, playing shorter, so I suffered a lot with my serves the beginning of the match. . . At the end of the first set, I felt that I start to win my serves easier than him. So the last couple of games of the first set, I believe that I had more control of the games”.

Nadal went on to say “the second set I started well, 3Love, I didn’t suffer a lot with my serve. Just in the last game at 53 that I didn’t play my best game there and he broke me. Happy to have the break back later and finally win the match”. With regards to Nishikori, Nadal sees him as a future top ten player “he’s playing great tennis. He’s able to do the most difficult things in this sport very easy because he’s able to go inside the court, change the direction of the ball. That’s probably the most difficult thing of this sport”.

Furthermore, Nadal expressed “ when he improves and he plays with a little bit less mistakes in some moments, he will be fighting for everything. So I like a lot how Kei plays. I have big respect for him. Before the match I knew this match was a very dangerous one for me, and another reason I’m very happy to be through”.

Concerning the left knee injury, Nadal explained “I had this since Indian Wells. During the week of Indian Wells, the knee was getting a little bit worse. I arrived here soso, and happy I’m playing in the quarterfinals. . . For me here is an important tournament, and every victory has a very, very big value for me, especially without being perfect“.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal will collide with either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Florian Mayer. These two will battle it out later in the afternoon.

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