Nadal edges Verdasco in 3-tiebreaker match

August 18, 2011 - 4:42 PM
Cincinnati Tennis

Rafael Nadal, from Spain, blows a kiss to the crowd after defeating Fernando Verdasco, from Spain, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (9) at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 in Mason, Ohio. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Rafael Nadal wanted to play a lot of tennis at the Western & Southern Open, though maybe not all in one day.

Nadal survived a three-set, three-tiebreaker match against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco on Thursday, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (9) victory that kept him on court for 3 hours, 38 minutes.

"The truth is that I am very happy," he said, before heading off to get ready for a doubles match. "Very content with the victory. It was a tough match for both of us."

Nadal arrived hoping to get a lot of on-court time this week. He missed a month after hurting his left foot at Wimbledon, where he reached the finals 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 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.

The second-ranked Nadal 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. No. 4 Andy Murray also 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 finals 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. Slovkia's Daniela Hantuchova upset eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

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Freelance writer Mark Schmetzer in Mason, Ohio contributed to this report.