California - Simply reaching the quarter-finals
of the BNP Paribas Open was a victory in itself for Rafa Nadal as he
celebrated a 4-6 6-4 7-5 win over Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis on
The Spanish left-hander enthralled a near-capacity
crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, coming from a set down in the
fourth round to improve his record this year to 14-1 on his return from
seven months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Nadal showed no
visible sign of discomfort as he took control in the last two sets,
though he was unable to move as freely as he would have liked,
especially forward and back, against a player known for his audacious
"Thursday my movements weren't perfect, you know," said
the 26-year-old, a twice champion at Indian Wells who won his 11th grand
slam title at the French Open last June.
"Against a player like
Ernests, the right thing to do, in my opinion, is play against his
backhand and change to his forehand quick, no? But, today I didn't have
legs for that.
"Changing direction from behind not from side is
much more difficult, so I felt more comfortable with my movements
playing against his backhand. I felt if I changed directions I had to
run more, too."
Asked how his knee felt after his second match in
five days, Nadal replied: "I said before the tournament my knee is some
days good, some days not that good. Today so-so.
"But I fight. I
fight every ball. I tried my best in every moment. I know I cannot go to
some balls that in the past I went on Thursday, but I will do it in the
"So to win matches on days like today(Thursday) is more important
than ever for me, and I am very happy about what I did on court, happy
about the attitude," added the Spaniard, who had his left knee taped up
through the match.
Playing his first
hard-court event in a year, Nadal looked sharper and more confident with
his movement about the court from the second set, and sealed victory in
two hours 33 minutes after he broke Gulbis in the penultimate game of
the third set.
Fifth seed Nadal, who was gifted a place in the
last 16 when Argentina's Leonardo Mayer withdrew before their
third-round match with a back injury, will next meet long-time rival and
defending champion Roger Federer.
The two have not played since
last year's semi-finals at Indian Wells where the Swiss triumphed 6-3
6-4, and this will be the earliest they have clashed at a tournament
since their first meeting in 2004.
"Feels like it happened 100
years before," Nadal smiled as he reflected on his 6-3 6-3 victory over
Federer in the third round of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami nine
"We have played many after that. Friday will be a
nice match. Always to play against Roger is a pleasure. This match
arrives early for me, too early to go to the match with the feeling that
I can play equal conditions than him."
Nadal, who has enjoyed a
successful tournament run on clay in recent weeks, winning two ATP
titles after reaching three finals, played down his chances of beating
second seed Federer in the last eight.
"I think I am not that
level today, but I gonna try, as I do always," said the Spaniard, who
leads 18-10 overall in their career meetings.
"I gonna try to enjoy the match. I'm going to try to play well, make the match positive for me with any result.
am here in Indian Wells in quarter-finals. Two weeks ago I didn't know
if I would be able to be here. So being in the quarter-finals is a
fantastic result for me, and we'll see."
Results on Wednesday from the eighth day of the ATP Masters and WTA BNP Paribas Open (x denotes seeded player):
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x8) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x17) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Gilles Simon (FRA x13) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
Tomas Berdych (CZE x6) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA x10) 6-1, 7-5
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x18) 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5
Andy Murray (GBR x3) bt Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x7) bt Tommy Haas (GER x19) 6-1, 6-2
Rafael Nadal (ESP x5) bt Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Maria Kirilenko (RUS x13) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE x5) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Maria Sharapova (RUS x2) bt Sara Errani (ITA x6) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2