Friday, March 15, 2013

Nadal tops ailing Federer; Azarenka, Stosur default

   It was the biggest letdown since Twinkies went off the market.
   What was supposed to be a blockbuster day at Indian Wells turned into a colossal dud because of injuries.
Rafael Nadal, serving in last year's BNP Paribas Open,
improved to 19-10 lifetime against Roger Federer.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   In Thursday's featured evening match, Rafael Nadal dispatched Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
   Nadal is playing in his first hardcourt tournament after missing seven months because of a left knee injury and then a virus. Federer tweaked his back earlier in the BNP Paribas Open.
   At least Nadal and Federer made it to the court. Both women's quarterfinals during the day session were wiped out.
   Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was scheduled to play eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in a matchup of former No. 1 players, but Azarenka defaulted with an ankle injury. Also, No. 7 seed Sam Stosur of Australia pulled out of her scheduled match against No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany with a calf problem.
   What is this, cagefighting?
   Nadal improved to 19-10 lifetime against Federer in their earliest meeting in a single-elimination tournament since their first one in 2004, a 6-3, 6-3 victory by Nadal in the round of 32 at Miami. Nadal's layoff relegated him to the fifth seed at Indian Wells. He returned to the tour one month ago, winning two of three tournaments on clay.
Roger Federer, practicing during the 2012 BNP
Paribas Open, tweaked his back in this year's
tournament. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "Two weeks ago, I didn't know if I can be here, and (Saturday) I will be in semifinals here," Nadal, 26, told reporters. "But is a big surprise for me to have these results. I was able to practice just a little before the comeback. Important thing is to be healthy. And if that happens and I'm able to practice as much as I can, as much as I want, probably that the comeback will be a little bit less difficult, no?"
   The Associated Press reported that Nadal had his knee wrapped for Thursday's match and limped slightly at times.
   "No question, he's a bit careful at times, his movement," Federer told reporters. "That's totally normal. Hasn't played for some time on hardcourt. I don't know if it's careful or if it's just getting used to it again."
   Federer had his own physical problems.
   "I'm happy to be out there and able to compete, but it's obviously a small issue," said Federer, 31. "That doesn't work against guys like Rafa, obviously."
   Nadal, the 2007 and 2009 champion at Indian Wells, will meet sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Berdych eliminated unseeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-4. 
   Meanwhile, the 15th time might be the charm for Bob and Mike Bryan. The 34-year-old identical twins, who have won virtually every other men's doubles honor, seek their first Indian Wells title in their 15th consecutive appearance there. They grew up about a two-hour drive east in the Los Angeles area.
   The top-ranked Bryans saved a match point in their 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 match tiebreak victory over unseeded Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky and reached their third Indian Wells final. All but Gonzalez starred at Stanford.
   The Bryans won the Australian Open in January for a record 13th Grand Slam men's doubles title. They will face either Treat Huey, a Washington, D.C., native who plays for the Philippines, and Jerzy Janowicz of Poland or Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil. Both teams are unseeded.
  Sacramento State def. Southern Utah 6-1 in Cedar City, Utah. No. 1 singles: Rebeca Delgado (SS) def. Veronika Rogova 6-1, 6-0. Records: Sac State 3-7 overall, 2-0 Big Sky Conference; Southern Utah 4-4, 0-1.
   No. 48 Southern Methodist def. Santa Clara 5-2 in Santa Clara on Wednesday. No. 1 singles: Aleksandra Malyarchikova (SM) def. No. 32 Katie Le 6-2, 7-6 (tiebreaker score not available). Records: Southern Methodist 9-5 overall, 1-1 Conference USA; Santa Clara 5-5, 1-0 West Coast Conference.

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