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Nadal Battles Past Raonic Into Miami SFs

Miami, U.S.A.

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal plays Milos Raonic for a fifth time.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal had lost just nine games total entering the Sony Open Tennis quarter-finals, but needed to battle for a victory over Milos Raonic on Thursday night in Miami. The Spaniard prevailed against the 12th-seeded Canadian 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 after two hours and 35 minutes.

Nadal, a three-time Miami finalist, continues his pursuit of a first title at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament when he next meets Czech Tomas Berdych, the 2010 runner-up. Berdych defeated Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-6(3) to record his 450th tour-level victory.

Nadal boasts a 16-match winning streak against Berdych, and leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 17-3.

"For me to be in semi-finals after losing early in Indian Wells is very important for my confidence," said Nadal.

"The difference between quarter-finals and semi-finals is a lot, and tomorrow I have another day to try to keep playing better."

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Nadal had not lost a set against Raonic in their previous four FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes, but was unable to maintain the streak. After failing to convert his three break point chances, the Spaniard double-faulted on set point to hand Raonic the early lead - and also leave the Canadian as the lone player yet to drop serve during the tournament.

It would not be for long, though. The World No. 1 came back with a vengeance in the second set, running out to a 4-0 lead. Raonic saved a break point to start the third set, but then lost serve in the seventh game. Nadal limited Raonic to just four points on return in the third set, and closed the match with a love service game.

"I feel like this time around I handled myself much better, especially considering the conditions," said Raonic. "So a lot of things we have been working on I managed to incorporate, and I feel like I'm much further ahead. I dealt with the situation much better than I would have a few weeks ago or few months ago."

Nadal advances to the semi-finals for a sixth time in Miami and for a 52nd time in Masters 1000 action. He finished runner-up at this tournament in 2005 (l. to Federer), ’08 (l. to Davydenko) and ’11 (l. to Djokovic).

Nadal and Raonic were facing off for the first time since last August in the Coupe Rogers final. Raonic advanced beyond an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final for the first time that week, and afterwards became the first player born in the 1990s to break into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

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