Indian Wells, March 19 (IANS) Spain’s Rafael Nadal advanced to the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori here.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion appeared to be in trouble when he conceded an early break against his in-form rival here on Friday afternoon and then faced two more break points while serving at 1-3, reports Xinhua.
At that juncture, the match resembled Nishikori’s straight-set victory over Nadal last year in Montreal.
But in what proved to be the turning point of the contest, the 29-year-old Spaniard rallied to hold serve in the fifth game and then seized full control of the match with powerful forehand blasts reminiscent of his peak years.
That momentum carried over to the second set, with the world No. 5 grabbing a 3-0 lead and finishing off the victory six games later.
Despite his early struggles, Nadal was only broken twice in the match, managing to control his service games against one of the best returners in tennis thanks in large part to putting 88 percent of his first serves in play.
The Japanese world No. 6, for his part, paid dearly for putting just 50 percent of his first serves in play, losing serve on four occasions and winning only 37 percent of his second-serve points for the contest.
With this victory, Nadal improved his career record against Nishikori to 8-1.