Nadal Survives Zverev In Indian Wells
On Tuesday, Rafael Nadal called Sascha Zverev “a future No. 1.” But a day later, the Spaniard showed that in the present, he still rules.
No. 4 seed Nadal saved a match point in overcoming the 18-year-old German 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday, winning 15 of the final 16 points. The three-time Indian Wells champion (2007, 2009 and 2013) still has a chance to reach his 100th tour-level final (67-32).
"A great victory... I'm very happy about it," Nadal said. "I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations."
Nadal held a set point in the opening set tie-break, but squandered the opportunity by overcooking a forehand. Down a set, the Spaniard rebounded, winning the second set going away, 25 points to nine.
“First set I had big chance with not a difficult forehand down the line that I missed,” Nadal noted. “But after that, I think I played a great second set. But sometimes when you win a set that easily, it’s dangerous for the beginning of the next one. The beginning of the third he played aggressive, and I think I lost the rhythm a bit, so I was in trouble.”
After breaking Nadal twice in the decider, Zverev had a chance to become the youngest man to make the Indian Wells quarter-finals since Michael Chang and Andre Agassi in 1989. Serving at 5-4 in the deciding set, he was a point away from notching his biggest career win. But on match point, Zverev missed a forehand volley.
"I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match," he said.
The miscue took a heavy toll on Zverev, who seemed to lose his spark after letting slip the opportunity to claim his first Top 10 victory.
"It was a great match. Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. He's known for that," Zverev said. "I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it. I'm out and he's in the quarter-finals."