2008 ATP-WTA Tour Pacific Life Open - At The Indian Wells Tennis Garden - Day 5
Story By Matt Osias
NADAL GETS THE BETTER OF BLAKE
Having lost each of their past three matches, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal maintained his composure to outlast the American James Blake in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 thriller.
The momentum started out in Blake’s court, however, as the No. 9 seed managed to grab the first break of the match. At 2-1 and up 00-30, Blake tattooed the Nadal serve down the line for a winner. Then, just 2 points later, Blake claimed the break to go up 3-1.
But trying to suppress the world No. 2 is as tough a feat as any; with the score at 4-2 in Blake’s favor, Nadal reversed the roles, quickly going up 00-40 and eventually securing the break back.
The key to the first set, however, came in the form of a controversial challenge play. With the set score deadlocked at 5-5 and Nadal leading 30-40, Blake stopped play in mid-point to challenge a call that the Spaniard’s shot was long, though the review was unfavorable, handing the No. 2 the break and a chance to serve out the first set – which he did.
“I had some break point opportunities at 6-5 in the first set; I didn’t get those,” Blake said. “That was the difference in the match, just a couple of points here and there.”
In the second set, Blake regained his confidence and breaks Nadal on his first serve attempt, never looking back, taking the second set convincingly 6-3. Though, regardless of the swing of momentum, Nadal’s resiliency carried him through the final set.
Last year’s Pacific Life Open champ will next face his rival-in-the-making, Serbian No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semifinal.
SERBS MAKING STATEMENT
World No. 3 Djokovic beat the pesky Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6(5), 6-2 on Stadium Court Thursday afternoon.
The 2008 Australian Open winner broke Wawrinka twice in the second set and dropped just one point on serve en route to a dominate second set victory. Djokovic’s next task will be a rematch of last year’s final against the defensive-minded Nadal.
“I’ve been successful against him on the hard courts outdoors, so I can say that I feel pretty confident playing him,” Djokovic said. “We know each other’s game, and we’ve had a lot of meetings in the last year.”
Rafael Nadal – ESP
Jelena Jankovic – SRB
On the women’s side, No. 1 seed Ana Ivanovic and No. 3 seed countrywoman Jelena Jankovic both won their quarterfinal matches to join Russian No. 2 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova, fittingly paring the top-four women’s seeds in the last remaining spots.
Top-seeded Ana Ivanovic had it flowing in the first set against Russian Vera Zvonareva, winning the first four games in less than 10 minutes en route to a 6-1, 6-4 victory in just 66 minutes.
“I know I have the game to beat anyone if I play well and do what I’m supposed to do out there,” Ivanovic said. “All these players that are in the draw, I’ve beaten them before, so it gives me lots of confidence.”
Fellow Serbian Jankovic was the recipient of a sort of gift Thursday, as the surging American Lindsay Davenport retired from the match after losing the first set 6-2; citing a back injury.
“After two games, it was pretty sore out there,” Davenport said.
Check back soon for more coverage of the 2008 Pacific Life Open.
Matt Osias can be reached at email@example.com