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Dolgopolov Stuns Nadal, Fognini Saves 2 Match Points

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Dolgopolov© Getty ImagesAlexandr Dolgopolov upset Rafael Nadal in the third round in Indian Wells on Monday.

Alexandr Dolgopolov registered the upset of the tournament when he stunned World No. 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.

It was Dolgopolov’s first victory over Nadal, having dropped all 10 sets played in five previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. The Ukrainian scored his second win over a Top 5 opponent in less than a month after springing the upset over David Ferrer in the Rio de Janeiro semi-finals.

"I feel great, as after every win, of course," said Dolgopolov. "I beat the defending champion and the No. 1 in the world."

The Kiev native recovered after being broken in the opening game of the match, eventually capturing the first set on his second set point when Nadal struck a forehand long. The Spaniard would break in the sixth game of the second set, leveling the match and forcing a deciding set.

Dolgopolov appeared to be well on his way to the victory after consolidating for a 5-2 advantage in the third set, but was broken at love while serving for the match a game later. The former World No. 13 held his nerve after Nadal reeled off 10 straight points, forcing a tie-break. After rallying from a mini-break deficit, Dolgopolov fired an ace to claim victory on his first match point — or so he thought. A dramatic hawkeye overrule briefly left the door open for Nadal, but the No. 28 seed slammed it shut, hitting an inside-out forehand for the win.

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Nadal was denied a ninth consecutive semi-final result in the Coachella Valley. It was his second defeat of the year after succumbing to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final.

"Since I started the competition here I didn't find the right feelings," said Nadal. "It's true that I played against two opponents that probably didn't help me to get into my rhythm in the tournament. But that's it. I was there. I saved a tough situation on the first day. Today I was close to saving another one.

"But in the end, when you are pushed to the limit, these things happen. You can lose. I lost today. Congratulate him. I think he played better than me. That's it. Life continues. I'm going to keep working hard to try to be ready for Miami."

Dolgopolov will next face Fabio Fognini in a rematch of their Rio quarter-final. It will be the Ukrainian's second Round of 16 appearance in Indian Wells in four trips to the desert, and Fognini's first in his sixth main draw appearance.

Fognini, the No. 13 seed, saved two match points in a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 win over 23rd-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils earlier Monday.

The lead seesawed between the two players in the third set. Fognini fell behind first, won four straight games to pull ahead 4-2, then lost the next three to give Monfils the chance to serve out the match. Monfils held two match points, but could not deliver, ultimately conceding his advantage with a double fault. The Italian won the final three games, breaking Monfils at love for the victory.

Fognini also went the distance in his other two wins over Monfils, prevailing in a 9-7 fifth set at the 2010 French Open and in a third set tie-break last year in the Umag semi-finals.

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