Rafael Nadal withstood a strong second set fight from Jarkko Nieminen to come out victorious and reach the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open. The world number one beat Finland’s Nieminen 6-1, 6-4 in a match that lasted 80 minutes.
After coasting through the first set, Nadal blew a 3-1 second set lead that nearly allowed Nieminen back into the match. The Spaniard had to save a break point in the ninth game to hold off Nieminen and move to 8-0 against the Finn. He is now 11-2 on clay this season as he moves another step closer to winning his fourth title in Madrid.
Next up for Nadal is Tomas Berdych, who made a comeback of his own against Grigor Dimitrov. Berdych dropped the first set 3-6, but fought back to win the second and third sets, 6-3, 6-2, respectively.
Berdych, a Czech Republic native, reached the final of this event back in 2012 before losing to Roger Federer. He broke Dimitrov 12 times and worked through 12 aces from his Bulgarian opponent to move on into the quarterfinals and set up a clash with Nadal.
“I will need to run a lot,” said Berdych when asked about his next match with Nadal. “He’s playing really well and is just showing how great he is on clay.”
Japan’s Kei Nishikori continued his solid play in 2014 by winning two set tiebreakers in his matchup with Canadian Milos Raonic to win 7-6(5), 7-6(5). He trailed 2-5 in the first set, but reeled off five straight games to win the first set, and went on to win the third-round match in a little over two hours.
“It was really tough because against Raonic, you don’t get many rallies and you don’t get rhythm,” said Nishikori. “He was very aggressive and playing well. It was a really close game.”
Up next for the 24-year old is either Feliciano Lopez or Dominic Thiem, who has already put his imprint on this tournament by bouncing Stanislas Wawrinka back in the second round.