Indian Wells: Defending champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set up a mouth-watering showdown in the BNP Paribas quarter finals after they battled through tricky fourth-round encounters on Wednesday.
Federer rode his luck to scrape past fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, while Nadal had to come from a set down to beat talented Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Four-time Indian Wells champion Federer last played Nadal a year ago, also at Indian Wells, when the Swiss won their semi-final 6-3, 6-4, though the Spaniard leads overall in their meetings 18-10.
Australian Open champion and top seed Novak Djokovic, who began his “evening” match in the early hours of Thursday morning local time, advanced with a 6-0, 7-6 victory over big-serving American Sam Querrey.
Third seed Andy Murray needed almost two hours to beat Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 7-6, 6-4 and will next face seventh-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, who overpowered German Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-2.
Federer appeared to be in cruise control serving for the match at 5-4 in the second but was broken to love before his opponent went on to clinch the set in a tiebreak 7-4.
The players traded early breaks of serve in the third before Federer sealed the win by again breaking Wawrinka in the 12th game when his compatriot and good friend netted a forehand.
Nadal, playing his first hardcourt event in almost a year, lost a closely contested opening set to Gulbis when he hit a forehand long on the first break point of the match. However, the left-hander steadily upped his game to take control of the next two sets as the two players treated a packed house at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with a brilliant display of shot-making.
Top seed Djokovic stormed through his opening set against local favourite Querrey in only 22 minutes before winning a closely contested second set 8-6 in the tiebreak.
In women’s singles, erratic serving cost Petra Kvitova dearly as the fifth-seeded Czech was knocked out by Russian Maria Kirilenko on Wednesday, losing 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarter-finals. Kirilenko will next meet 2006 champion and compatriot Maria Sharapova, who beat sixth-seeded Italian Sara Errani 7-6, 6-2 in a late evening match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Left-hander Kvitova double-faulted 13 times during an error-strewn encounter which ended after almost two-and-a-half hours when the 2011 Wimbledon champion sent a forehand long on a steaming hot afternoon at the Indian Wells. (Reuters)