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Nadal struggles but moves on

INDIAN WELLS, California (AP) ― Rafael Nadal survived his strongest challenge yet at the BNP Paribas Open, beating qualifier Somdev Devvarman 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.

The world’s top-ranked player dominated his first two matches, dropping just six games while winning in straight sets. But he was challenged from the start by Devvarman, the first Indian ever to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells.

No. 2-ranked Roger Federer, a three-time champion at Indian Wells, defeated wild card Ryan Harrison 7-6 (4), 6-3, improving to 17-2 this year.

It was the 18-year-old American’s third loss to a top-10 player in his career.
Rafael Nadal returns a shot against Somdev Devvarman. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Rafael Nadal returns a shot against Somdev Devvarman. (AFP-Yonhap News)

Nadal, a two-time winner here, won a tight first set, then held serve to lead 5-4 in the second. He got some breathing room on Devvarman’s serve, going up 40-love and sending a forehand past the 26-year-old Indian at the net to close out the match.

Nadal improved to 29-4 at Indian Wells, where he’s made the semifinals or better the last five years, winning in 2007 and ‘09.

Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 15 matches with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over fellow Serb Viktor Troicki.

Djokovic, ranked third in the world, has lost just six games in his first three matches at Indian Wells, where he won the 2008 title. Djokovic’s perfect match record this year includes winning titles at the Australian Open and Dubai, where he beat Roger Federer in the final.

Troicki, the 16th seed, hadn’t lost a set here until he ran into Djokovic on a day when temperatures in the desert soared to near 90 degrees ― 10 to 15 degrees warmer than usual for the second straight day.

Troicki came into the match with a 14-5 record, but Djokovic dominated from the beginning in winning for the eighth straight time against him. Djokovic’s last loss came in November against Federer in the ATP World Tour finals in London.

Djokovic and Troicki later teamed up for a doubles match and lost.

Eighth-seeded Andy Roddick fought his temper and No. 18 Richard Gasquet of France, losing 6-3, 7-6 (5). It was Gasquet’s second win over a top-10 player this week, having taken out No. 10 Jurgen Melzer in the third round.

“He outplayed me from the first ball. He was obviously very confident,” Roddick said. “I tried to force it and be more aggressive in the second, but when you play that way, it starts coming in bunches. You win in bunches and you lose in bunches.”

Roddick argued with the chair umpire when he trailed 3-1 in the second set, telling the umpire he was giving him a warning of his own. He rallied to lead 6-5 before a backhand error allowed Gasquet to force the tiebreaker.

“With the mistakes he made, it’s only fair that I would give him a warning,” Roddick said.
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