Rafael Nadal outlasted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the late nightcap to Wednesday play at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Tsonga looked completely out of sorts in the first set before rallying to win the second, when Rafa failed to serve it out at 5-4, and stretch Nadal in the third, forcing the Spaniard into an extended final game with multiple deuces before clinching it in front of a raucous drunken Miami crowd.
Nadal will next face No. 4 Andy Murray, who out-maneuvered No. 9 seed Janko Tipsarevic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“At the end of the third set when I was up a break, he had break point in a tight game, and I came up with some big serves and served my way out of trouble, which is important,” Murray said. “Because of the wind, I was maybe trying to hit it too close to the line and not building the points as much I needed to. So when I did that, I did a bit better.”
The two women’s quarterfinals on Wednesday featured two storylines, as first No. 7 seed Marion Bartoli stopped world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka’s 26-0 winning streak to begin the season, stopping the Belarussian 6-3, 6-3.
While Azarenka usually likes to pummel her opponents into submission, it was the golf-club-length racquet of Bartoli doing the clubbing.
“The key for me tonight was the belief,” Bartoli said. “I’ve beaten her in the past, and some of the losses were really close, so I knew I had a chance to win.”
Wildcard Venus Williams also saw her run come to an end at her first event of 2012, worked over by No. 5 seed Aggie Radwanska 6-4, 6-1, who will next face Bartoli.
“Out of all the matches, today was probably the one where I had the least pressure in terms of playing someone who was going to maybe hit winners on me or put pressure on me,” Williams said. “So it was disappointing not to feel my best today. I was able to keep it close in the first set and try different strategies, but it was definitely a mental battle, and today I didn’t conquer the mental part…With someone like her you have to be really consistent and move forward at the same time. Typically I like playing someone like her. I feel like I have all day until I feel like moving forward. Normally it has been a great match-up for me, but today she had more answers.”
On court Thursday in Miami are (2) Maria Sharapova vs. (4) Caroline Wozniacki, (8) Mardy Fish vs. (21) Juan Monaco, (1) Bob/Mike Bryan vs. (7) Leander Paes/Radek “The Worm” Stepanek, and at 7 p.m. ET (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) David Ferrer, followed by (7) Marion Bartoli vs. (5) Agnieszka Radwanska.
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
 J Monaco (ARG) vs  M Fish (USA) – ATP
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP-Not after 5:00pm
Starting at 7:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  D Ferrer (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
 M Bartoli (FRA) vs  A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Mardy Fish has hired doubles specialist Mark Knowles as his coach: “I still train with the USTA in L.A. and with [coach] David Nainkin still and spend a lot of hours on the practice court with him, those guys, so I’m still fully vested in the USTA, as well… I’ve always thought, and a lot of the guys in the locker room think, that [Knowles] is one of the best tennis minds out there. He reminds me a lot actually of Justin Gimelstob just how he knows this era, knows, watches so much.” — wow, the upper-level comparison to Justin, scary…Chilean Fernando Gonzalez on his retirement: “I think in the beginning it will not be that tough, because I plan to do many things like travel. I want to see and feel what it is like to travel the world without a tennis bag. But certainly sooner or later I will begin to miss the competition.” Gonzo says he also looks forward to eventually playing the senior tour…Kim Clijsters has a torn hip muscle that will keep her out of action for around a month…32-year-old Croat Ivan Ljubicic says he is retiring following the Monte Carlo Masters in April…John McEnroe defeated a much younger and homecountry favorite Magnus Larsson 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 to win the seniors title at Stockholm. En route to the final McEnroe beat Pat Cash, Mikhail Pernfors and Thomas Muster. “Magnus is obviously playing well because he already beat Goran (Ivanisevic) and Stefan (Edberg) this week, so I knew it would be tough,” said McEnroe, who was cheered-on from the stands by pal Bjorn Borg…Juan Martin del Potro lost his shit in the Indian Wells quarterfinals against Roger Federer when the Hawk-Eye line-calling replay malfunctioned on a key call. “There was a problem with that call,” del Potro said. “It was clear out and the machine doesn’t work. The chair umpire told me he made a mistake. After that, I was not concentrating in the match and Roger was playing better, taking all his opportunities. I don’t feel comfortable playing the match.” The ATP released a statement saying, “If Hawk-Eye does not have data, as per ATP rules, the original call stands. We understand there was a loss of an internet connection and the data could not be provided.” Time to upgrade from dial-up…The Olympic tennis held at Wimbledon this year will reportedly include night play.
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