With a stunning comeback victory over big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, former world no.1 Rafael Nadal took the last spot in the BNP Paribas Masters quarter-finals on Thursday at Paris. Nadal was down a match point in the second set but finally prevailed to rally through. Swiss maestro Roger Federer, however, was the major third-round casualty on Thursday, losing his match in three sets to USA’s John Isner, another big-serving guy in the ATP circuit. The quarterfinal line-up was complete with Andy Murray beating David Goffin; Novak Djokovic accounting for Gilles Simon; Stan Wawrinka winning against Viktor Troicki; Tomas Berdych defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; David Ferrer prevailing over Grigor Dimitrov and Richard Gasquet going through as Kei Nishikori retired in the second set.
Roger Federer found the spirited American John Isner a tough nut to crack in his third-round match on Thursday. The first set was closely contested, in which no player could find any real break opportunity. The decision came in the tiebreak with Isner having an upper hand. Federer looked forlorn as Isner created two break chances in the opening game of the second set. But somehow the American failed to convert and at this point, Federer recomposed himself and leveled the set scores by winning the second at 6-3. The third set was another battle fought on even terms with both Federer and Isner holding serve until they reached the second tiebreak in the match. Isner raced to a 6-2 lead and held four match points. However the Swiss star saved three of them before the American converted the fourth to walk away with a 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 victory. Isner’s quarterfinal opponent will be Spain’s David Ferrer, who had a tough clash against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov. After losing the first set on tiebreak, Ferrer made a strong comeback to take the match 6-7, 6-1, 6-4.
The match of the day was the duel between Spain’s Rafael Nadal and South African Kevin Anderson. The 29-year-old Anderson broke Nadal early to take a 2-1 lead before clinching the first set at 6-4. In the second set, Nadal showed his steely resolve and forced a tiebreak. Regardless, Anderson rallied and held a match point against Nadal at 6-5 in the tiebreak. But Nadal showed his fighting instincts and finally stole the set from Anderson. In the third set, Nadal had found his bearings as moved to a 2-0 early lead. The Spaniard, however, slogged in a long 12-minute fourth game, in which Anderson forced six break opportunities. Nadal nullified all of them and held two break points himself in the eighth game at 5-2. He converted one and booked his place in the quarterfinals with a 4-6, 7-6, 5-2 victory. It was a great comeback for Nadal, when all seemed lost for him. In notching up his 764th career win, he has already gone ahead of Pete Sampras to occupy the ninth place in the Open Era winners’ list. It is another matter that Nadal is yet to win his first ATP Masters 1000 title of the 2015 season. In the quarterfinal on Friday, Nadal will take on Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-4, 7-5.
In another notable third-round match on Thursday, Great Britain’s Andy Murray bageled Belgium’s David Goffin in the first set before emerging a runaway 6-0, 6-1 victor in 53 minutes. Murray looks in great form ahead of his quarterfinal match with Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who benefitted, when Japanese star Kei Nishikori retired with Gasquet leading 7-6, 4-1 in the second set. In Thursday’s other matches, world no.1 Novak Djokovic had no difficulty against Frenchman Gilles Simon in his 6-3, 7-5 victory and Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych scored a 6-3, 6-4 victory over another French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. On Friday, Djokovic and Berdych will play against each other for a place in the semifinals.