SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Nadal Grinds Out Tough Win
Two-time finalist Rafael Nadal rallied from a set down and saved five of six break points he faced to beat David Nalbandian 6-7(8), 6-2, 6-2 en route to the Sony Ericsson Open fourth round Sunday.
Looking to end an 11-month title drought dating back to his victory at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome last May, Nadal held one set point in a dramatic 18-point first-set tie-break and ultimately had to toil for 2 hrs., 25 mins. to get the job done.
The players engaged in a series of punishing baseline exchanges throughout the match, with Nadal's superior fitness giving him the edge in the deciding third set.
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Nadal is playing just his fourth tournament of the year. He retired in the Australian Open quarter-finals (vs. Murray) with a right knee injury but made a successful return in Indian Wells, where he reached the semi-finals and won the doubles title.
Nadal, at just 23, has amassed a stunning 15 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, but is yet to taste victory in Miami. He finished runner-up at the Sony Ericsson Open in 2005 (to Federer) and 2008 (to Davydenko).
“When you go on court against a player with [Nalbandian's] talent, you are always a little bit scared," Nadal said. "I think having a long first set for everything was better for me than for him. [In the second set] I felt he was a little bit more tired than me. He started to have more mistakes, and was a little bit easier for me to play.
“I am very happy how I am doing in this American hard court season. Every match right now I want to be really important for me, and every victory gives me confidence.”
The Spaniard next faces countryman David Ferrer, who withstood 10 aces from Ivo Karlovic in a 7-6(5), 6-3 win.
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