• ATP Tour

Gritty Nadal wins to set up Federer clash

ESPN staff
March 13, 2013
Rafael Nadal had to dig deep to see off Ernests Gulbis © AP

Defending champion Roger Federer rallied for a 6-3 6-7(4) 7-5 victory over Stanislas Wawrinka to set up a BNP Paribas quarter-final with Rafael Nadal who was a battling three-set winner over Ernests Gulbis.

Federer, a four-time champion at Indian Wells, is looking for his first ATP Tour title since last August. The world No. 2 iimproved to 13-1 against Wawrinka, who was broken twice in the final set.

It could have been an easier passage through for Federer but he dropped his serve to love when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second and lost the breaker thanks to a double fault.

Wawrinka then took a break of serve at the start of the third to lead 2-1 but he could not shake off his fellow Swiss and a string of forehand errors in the gathering dusk in California secured Federer the final, decisive break in the 12th game.

Nadal demonstrated all his famed battling qualities to edge past Gulbis in match that stretched out over two and a half hours. After dropping the first set, Nadal began to find his stride but was matched blow for blow by the Latvian.

So tight was the contest, Nadal won only two more points than Gulbis. But the former world No. 1 won the decisive points, notably when breaking in the 11th game of the third set which enabled him to wrap up a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory at 9.47pm local time. The day session was scheduled to end at 7pm.

"To win matches in days like today are more important than ever for me, and I'm very happy about what I did on court," Nadal said. "I'm happy about the attitude. With all the problems, I was able to keep being focused and keep winning."

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