No. 1 Rafael Nadal came to life in the wee hours, fighting off five match points to take a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0 victory over nemesis David Nalbandian at the BNP Paribas Open.
In a fourth-round match that began about 11 p.m. Wednesday ET and lasted until about 2 a.m. Thursday, Nadal climbed back after losing the first set and falling behind 3-5 in the second. He then overcame four match points in the ninth game, and another in the 10th.
The 22-year-old Spaniard broke Nalbandian’s service to pull even at 5-5, then both held. Nadal shot out to a 4-0 lead on his way to winning the tiebreaker and the set.
He then dominated the third set against the Argentine, who had beaten him in both their previous meetings.
“I was lucky,” Nadal said. “I didn’t go into the match with the best mentality. I didn’t have a clear idea of how to play him, probably because I lost the last two matches against him. I have to play my game, and I didn’t.
“I had a big save today. I hope to play more aggressive now.”