MASON, Ohio, (Reuters) – World number two Rafa Nadal scraped into the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Open after beating fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-7 7-6 in a fierce battle yesterday.
It was a gruelling contest in the heat for the Spanish pair that lasted three hours and 38 minutes and was decided by a mistake-filled third tiebreak.
Nadal, who gave up three match points in the decisive tiebreak, stuck with the task to finish off a determined Verdasco despite never finding his rhythm.
While it was as close as could be, the game lacked the expected quality as Nadal made 41 unforced errors and Verdasco 59 while the world number two managed only 24 winners.
Nadal will face Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals after the American beat France’s Richard Gasquet 7-5 7-5.
Britain’s Andy Murray had an easier route into the last eight with a relatively comfortable 6-2 7-5 win over American qualifier Alex Bogomolov.
The win gave Murray revenge for his defeat to the Moscow-born Bogomolov in Miami earlier this year.
Czech Tomas Berdych easily dealt with Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 6-2 6-2 and will face the winner of the match, later on Thursday, between world number three Roger Federer and American James Blake.
World number one Novak Djokovic will also be in action on Thursday against Czech Radek Stepanek.