Looks like I missed a good one last night, er, this morning in Indian Wells. Just checking the results and the site comments and I see somehow Rafael Nadal saved five match points to defeat a nemesis of his, David Nalbandian, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0, in Indian Wells fourth round play.
From what I can tell, the match began around 11pm local time and finished minutes after 2am out in the desert, but it should have finished sooner. Nalbandian once again had his foot on the throat of Rafa with the World No. 1 serving down 6-3, 5-3 in the second set. But unlike his last two wins, both straight sets, over the Spaniard, this time Fat Dave just couldn’t seal the deal despite four match point opportunities on Rafa’s serve and another when he served for the match at 5-4. Wow.
Heartbreak City as they say. The match ended about five hours ago and I’m betting Nalbandian is not sleeping too well if at all right now.
That said, going in I didn’t give Nalbandian much of a chance in this one. Injuries aside, Nadal’s been dynamite lately when healthy, while Nalbandian, even though he has Rafa’s number, has been losing to guys like Daniel Koellerer. But credit to Nalbandian for showing that he can still “get up” for the bigger matches. I didn’t think he had that in him.
And of course credit to Nadal for proving without a doubt he’s mentally the toughest guy out there.
Rafa doesn’t just beat you, he rips your darn heart out and then shows it to you.
“David meet Roger, Roger meet David. Let’s begin our counseling session. What emotions did you each experience the morning after Rafa ripped your heart out?”
Wednesday’s earlier matches didn’t have quite the drama. Roger Federer struggled a bit with the explosive Fernando Gonzalez but prevailed in three sets 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Novak Djokovic needed two tiebreaks to oust Stan Wawrinka, and Juan Martin Del Potro used that same two-tiebreak formula to end John Isner’s run. Fernando Verdasco needed three sets to beat Phil Kohlschreiber and Andy Roddick got through a stern test against David Ferrer.
Nadal, though, wasn’t the only player saving match points Wednesday. Ivan Ljubicic saved five in a third set tiebreak win over Igor Andreev. Looby now faces Andy Murray who advanced after Tommy Robredo banged up his wrist.
So the quarterfinals at the first Tennis Masters 1000 Super 9, or whatever it’s called now, are set, we have Nadal v. DelPo, Roddick v. Djokovic and today Federer v. Verdasco and Murray v. Ljubicic.
Of the four, I’m penning Murray into the semifinals right now. The remaining “Fab Four” will have to really go to work. I do like Federer over Verdasco. Fed likes the pace and in “Hot Sauce” he gets another guy like Gonzo who can really crush the ball but also run hot & cold at times.
I also think with the day off Nadal takes care of DelPo and complete the Argentine Assault he missed out on in December. DelPo’s going to do a lot of running and I don’t think he’s mature enough to beat Rafa yet. However if this match is scheduled for Friday night and if it runs long, will Rafa have enough come Saturday?
And in my showcase match we get Roddick v. Djokovic, Round 5. Most recently, Novak triumphed in New York as the two infamously exchanged barbs in the press. Then in the much-anticipated rematch in Australia, Novak did just what the Roddick called him out on, and he retired due from the heat against the American. Hopefully, this time both are fully rested and ready for battle. Novak’s the better player overall and let’s not forget he’s the defending champion (virtually the same scenario as was in Australia), but I like Roddick.
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