Rafael Nadal rolls into Indian Wells quarters, faces Milos Raonic next
Rafael Nadal rolled in to the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells masters, as he comprehensively overcame the challenge posed by Gilles Simon in the fourth round here.
He started well breaking in the opening game. Nadal held easily too, to consolidate the break. Simon got on board with a love hold. Nadal was serving better than yesterday, and his court movements were spot on. He moved Simon around the court and served an ace to take a 3-1 lead.
Nadal reached break point again in the next game, but Simon saved it with a well-placed forehand winner. Nadal created another opportunity with an overhead smash winner but Simon saved it again with a backhand winner. Nadal hit a clean winner again, and this time took the chance and converted to take a double break lead in quick time.
Nadal was serving splendidly, giving Simon little chance to comeback. He was everywhere, and cramped Simon for space as he took a commanding 5-1 lead.
He put Simon under further pressure. After the Frenchman went down 15-30 with a double fault, Nadal attacked the net and hit a net volley winner for two break points. Simon saved both of them with wide shots landing on the baseline, and held his serve for the second time in the match, to force Nadal to serve for the set.
The world no.3 was in his element, hitting a brilliant backhand passing shot and a hefty serve to hold for love and take the first set 6-2.
Simon tried to put the disappointments of the first set behind him as he started with a good service game in the second. Nadal was in a spot of bother in his service game as he conceded three break points, with unforced errors. Simon returned deep and at Nadal’s feet, and the Spaniard was unable to send it across the net, giving Simon his first break of the match.
Nadal came back strongly as expected and Simon couldn’t take advantage of the break. He served a couple of double faults, and the game was back on serve again.
Nadal produced another strong service game, with two aces to level the scores at 2-2. He then put the pressure back on Simon, with some amazing hitting on both flanks and forcing the error from him. He soon led 3-2.
Nadal was high on confidence, as he raced away to a 4-2 lead, attacking the net and painting the lines.
Simon was down and out, as Nadal was all over him, forcing the error and getting the break to lead 5-2.
It seemed like the final game would be a formality, but Simon fired three forehands, and reached break point on Nadal’s serve. Nadal saved it with an overhead smash, but Simon took advantage of an unforced error and broke back to stay alive in the match.
He was then within a game of Nadal as he held on to his serve, leaving Nadal to serve for the match again.
Nadal didn’t falter this time. He took the blows Simon offered and gave some of his own, as he reached three match points. He needed only one, as he claimed his 14th successive win against a Frenchman, and advanced to the quarterfinals. He will face Canadian Milos Raonic next. The Spaniard has a perfect 5-0 record against him.