SONY ERICSSON OPEN 2012
Nadal, Tsonga To Meet In Quarter-finals
by Peter Holehan|
Rafael Nadal, a No. 2 seed and three-time finalist at Miami in 2005, 2008 and 2011, reached the quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive year by knocking out No. 16 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-4.
In what has been his biggest challenge thus far in the tournament, the 25-year-old Nadal wilted his way through a slow start.
Nishikori put himself in position to take control of the match, but failed to convert on six of seven break point opportunities in the opening three games of the first set.
Nishikori would have only one another break point chance for the remainder of the match.
Nadal broke Nishikori with a forehand smash to wrap up the first set and then was able to convert two more break point opportunities in the second set.
“The beginning was a very tough match for me,” said Nadal, who improved to 16-3 on the season. “I think I started to play more aggressive. I started playing shorter, so I suffered a lot with my serves in the beginning of the match. But at the end of the first set, I felt that I started to win my serves easier than him. So the last couple of games at the end of the first set, I believe that I had more control of the game."
In the latter stages of the first set, Nadal took a trainer’s break to have his left knee massaged. Nadal acknowledged that he has experienced some discomfort in the knee since the Indian Wells tournament earlier this month.
“During the week of Indian Wells, the knee was getting a little bit worse and I arrived here so so,” Nadal said. “I’m happy to play in the quarterfinals. I am probably not at perfect conditions today with the left knee, but the important thing is try to win as many matches as possible. For me, this is an important tournament, and every victory has very, very big value for me.”
In the quarter-finals, Nadal will face sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman powered past 19th seed Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-2. Tsonga won 86 per cent of his service points to advance past the German in just 54 minutes.
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