Mason, Ohio, Aug 19: Rafael Nadal held off fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (9) after 3 hours, 38 minutes to reach the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals on Thursday."The truth is that I am very happy. Very content with the victory. It was a tough match for both of us," he said, before heading off for doubles match that went an hour and 10 minutes.
Nadal arrived hoping to get a lot of on-court time this week. He missed nearly a month after hurting his left foot at Wimbledon, where he reached the final and lost to Novak Djokovic. He had a setback before his first match in Cincinnati. Nadal burned the tips of his index and middle fingers on his right hand when he touched a hot plate at a local restaurant. The left-handed Nadal had the fingers bandaged again on Thursday for protection.
Playing on a sunny, mid-80s F (30-degree C) afternoon, the second-ranked Nadal finished it by converting his fifth match point. It was only the second best-of-three matches in Nadal's career that featured three tiebreakers.He improved to 12-0 in his career against the unseeded Verdasco.
"You enjoy always a good match," Verdasco said. "But when you lose in this way, of course it's not easy to lose. You have it so close. Tennis is like that." In the quarterfinals, Nadal will play seventh-seeded Mardy Fish, who beat Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-5.
"If you want to play someone like Rafa, you hope that he plays a match that's four hours long before you play him," Fish said. "I mean, that's as physical as it gets. It's hot out there, so I'm sure he'll be pretty tired."Djokovic also moved into the quarterfinals, along with Roger Federer.
Djokovic beat Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3, improving to 31-0 on hard courts this year and 55-1 overall. Djokovic pumped his fist to get the crowd involved near the end. "It's been very slow, kind of an ugly match to play and watch, so I think we really needed to engage the crowd at the end," Djokovic said. "I've played so many matches, and they've caught up to me. It's OK.
"There are days like this when you don't feel like playing, but I hate losing. That's what makes me motivated on the court." Federer needed only 54 minutes to beat James Blake 6-4, 6-1, breaking his serve four times in the second set. Federer improved to 10-1 against the American.
"We were speeding out there today," Federer said. "Against James, it's always a fast-paced match from start to finish. You hope you get on a roll, and he doesn't. In the second set, he didn't play so well."No. 4 Andy Murray advanced with a 6-2, 7-5 win over American qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr.The women's bracket is wide open because of injuries and upsets. Defending champion Kim Clijsters (injuries) and Venus Williams (virus) had to skip the tournament, and Serena Williams dropped out on Wednesday because of a sore big toe after playing her seventh match in eight days.
Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki was upset in her first match of the tournament, and third-seeded Victoria Azarenka withdrew because of an injured hand. Serena Williams' premature departure cleared the way for Samantha Stosur, who got an extra day of rest and looked refreshed on Thursday, beating fifth-seeded Li Na of China 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The 10th-seeded Australian was scheduled to face Williams on Wednesday.
"I wasn't complaining that she pulled out," said Stosur, who lost to Williams in the final at Toronto last week. "I had a pretty easy day, which was nice, considering the week I had before. So I guess that was good for today's match, and hopefully will be good for tomorrow."
Stosur has beaten Li -- the French Open champion -- three times this season, including in the same round last week at Toronto. Second-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Petra Martic. Fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3. Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova downed eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli 6-3, 5-7, 6-3..AP