Rafa back from the brink, beats Zverev

Published by Reuters

Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Alexander Zverev to reach the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals; Getty Images

After third seed Stan Wawrinka was sent packing in the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open in California on Wednesday, he was very nearly joined by Rafael Nadal.

Yet the Spaniard pulled off a Houdini-like escape to reach the last eight.

Fourth seed Nadal, three times a champion at Indian Wells, came from 5-2 down in the final set and saved a match point before battling past 18-year-old German prospect Alexandr Zverev 6-7(8) 6-0 7-5.

The power-hitting Zverev had been bidding to become the youngest quarterfinalist at the event since 1989 and led 40-30 when serving for the match but his nerve deserted him at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The German, rated by Nadal as “a possible future No.1”, netted a gimme of a forehand volley for deuce, then netted another to go down a break point before dumping a third into the net to be broken.

The left-handed Nadal won the last five games of the deciding set to reach the quarterfinals, where he will face either fifth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori, who overcame American John Isner in three sets.

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