On Wednesday, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer advanced to the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open. Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner, Nicolas Almagro, Gilles Simon, and David Nalbandian also went through.
Roger Federer had a quick turnaround from his late night match against Milos Raonic on Tuesday, and he faced Brazilian left-hander Thomaz Bellucci. The lack of rest clearly showed early on from the Swiss Maestro, as he was broken early and then broken again to lose the first set 6-3. Feeling a sense of urgency, Fed broke in the first game of the second set, just as he did against Raonic. He started playing much better and he started to resemble the greatest player to ever play the game. He broke again in the final game of the set to wrap it up 6-3. In the third set it was even, much like the third set against Raonic. Both men were holding serve until 4-4 when Fed got down 0-30. The next few points would decide the fate of the match. Roger came u with the goods and hit four unreturnable serves to quickly find his way out of trouble. The next game, he won the match on his second match point to win his second comeback match in as many days.
Overall, it was a very good win for Roger, and it paralleled his semifinal win against Davydenko in Rotterdam. He played poorly in the first set, but rebounded very nicely in the second and third sets. Also like the Davydenko match, he was on the brink of defeat at 4-4 in the 3rd set when he was down 0-30 (he was down 0-40 vs Davydenko). That Federer has come back from potential match-losing situations twice this year is a very good sign and it shows that he is very confident in his own abilities right now. I hope that is highlighted the rest of the tournament in Indian Wells as Roger looks to capture his 3rd title here.
World #1 Novak Djokovic needed three sets to beat clean-hitting Spaniard Pablo Andujar 60 67(5) 62. Although the two sets that Djokovic won were 6-0 and 6-2 sets, I can't help but feel that he is not playing at his very best. He was getting pushed around by Andujar from the back of the court many times throughout the match and really needed to bring his best tennis to the table to get by the 45th ranked Spaniard. Rafael Nadal breezed through Alexandr Dolgopolov 63 62 and faced no real trouble whatsoever. Del Potro needed three sets to overcome Denis Istomin 76(2) 67(6) 62, and John Isner and Gilles Simon came through as they should against Matthew Ebden and Ryan Harrison. The young American was down a set and a break but came back to win the second set, and he couldn't hold it as the 13th ranked Frenchman took him out easily in the third set. There were two upsets on the day, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych were both eliminated. Tsonga was playing David Nalbandian and was serving for the match and was two points from victory but could not close out the match, and it cost him dearly. He lost 36 75 63. Tomas Berdych was demolished by Nicolas Almagro 64 60. Almagro was surely fired up after their controversial match at the Australian Open, and he played the match with guns blazing at high velocity.
The quarterfinal matches are as follows:
(1) Novak Djokovic vs (12) Nicolas Almagro
(2) Rafael Nadal vs David Nalbandian
(3) Roger Federer vs (9) Juan Martin del Potro (what else is new?)
(11) John Isner vs (13) Gilles Simon
- Djokovic vs Almagro and Isner vs Simon take place on Thursday, while Federer and Nadal play on Friday. Almagro has played very good tennis lately and has the firepower to give Djokovic some big problems. Whether he can play as well as he did against Tomas Berdych remains to be seen, but I expect a close match with the Spaniard bringing the fight to the World #1.
- Rafael Nadal was given a big break (what else is new?) when Tsonga went out, and he gets Nalbandian. The Argentine has had success against Nadal before, but don't expect much of a close match with the way Nadal has been playing.
- Roger is already 3-0 against Delpo this year and this will be the fourth time in four successive tournaments that they will meet. Unlike the other three matches, however, I believe del Potro will have a really great to chance to beat Roger with the Swiss Genius having the flu and not always looking his sharpest. You also have to wonder whether a likely semi meeting with Rafa will weigh on Fed's mind at all.
- Isner vs Simon is a straight toss up. Simon may not have the big game to beat Isner, but he is a very good returner and he is consistent, and he will have his chances. Take your pick.
I'll be back on Friday with a recap of all the quarterfinal action.