Rafael Nadal has been a busy man this week at the BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells. Not only is the former No. 1 in the singles quarterfinals today against David Nalbandian, but he’s also still alive in the men’s doubles competition partnering with friend Marc Lopez. Last night the duo who won Indian Wells in 2010 returned to the final after crushing Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 62, 60.
The Spaniards will play the winner of tonight’s semifinal between John Isner/Sam Querrey and Max Mirnyi/Daniel Nestor. Isner offered high praise for Nadal’s doubles skills.
“Rafa is the X factor,” Isner said yesterday. “Marc, I have played him a couple times in doubles. He’s savvy and does a lot of things, but I think when you have Rafa on your team he just does so many things that it forces guys to go for bigger shots.
“I was just watching on the TV. Seems like couple deuce points the guys double faulted to Rafa just because they have so much respect for him. It’s tough when can get his racquet on the ball in doubles with that forehand, because he runs around the backhand and hits the forehand, it’s no surprise at all. Hopefully Sam and I can get a shot at them.”
Isner beat Gilles Simon in three tough sets last night to set up a semifinal showdown with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
“I remember I played him in Beijing,” recalled Isner. “I think it was 2010. You know, I felt like I was serving well, and he was making every return within this far from the baseline. His anticipation, his hands, everything, it’s just world class. I mean, arguably the absolute best in the world. I’m gonna have to serve well, hit my spots, and have to serve smart. After that, I’m going to have to back it up with some very good shots, especially on my forehand.
“So a lot of things are going to have to go well for me on Saturday, you know, if I have a chance to beat him.”
Djokovic also beat Isner later in 2010 in five sets at Davis Cup. If Isner upsets Djokovic he will make the Top 10! The 6-foot-9 giant is into his second straight ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.
And if Isner does win his doubles tonight he’ll have the rare treat of trying to beat the top two players in the world, Djokovic (in singles semifinal) and then Nadal (in doubles final) on the same day, Saturday!!
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