Nadal lines up DelPo after Karlovic thriller
Originally published on: 18/03/11 10:10
Rafael Nadal overcame Ivo Karlovic in a thrilling quarter-final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.1 fought back from losing the opener to defeat the Croat 5-7 6-1 7-6(7) in two hours and 23 minutes.
Karlovic served out the opening set after breaking to love in the 11th game, but Nadal rallied back with five games on the bounce.
On the cusp of suffering a bagel for just the second time in his tour level career, Karlovic managed to fend off two break points and get on the scorecard before the world no.1 served out the second set in the very next game.
Karlovic was back on form in the third – as neither player came close to earning a break point opportunity – but he had to save two match points in the deciding set tiebreak, before Nadal finally squeezed through as he skewed a return wide.
“You lose a set against Karlovic, and you are under pressure the rest of the games of the match,” said Nadal. “I think I played a fantastic second set returning better than ever. In the third, I didn’t have chances. His serve was unstoppable. In the tie-break I was really nervous. I think I returned fantastic in the tie-break, but I didn’t put one first serve on court, so I was really nervous.”
The Spaniard, who had been out with a hamstring injury since the Australian Open, won the Indian Wells title in 2007 and 2009 and has now reached at least the semi-final stage for the past six years in a row.
“For sure, it is a very important victory for me,” he said. “Being in semi-finals another time here after one month outside competition is fantastic news for me.”
Nadal next faces Juan Martin del Potro, who beat him 6-2 6-2 6-2 when the pair last met – in the semi-finals of the 2009 US Open.
“He’s one of the best of the world, for sure,” said Nadal. “He’s coming back after one year outside of competition almost. When you are in a difficult situation like he was last year and you come back and you start to win, you are stronger than before because you’re motivated and you want to recover the time that you lost for one year.”