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Djokovic gains revenge, Nadal pulls off Houdini-like escape

Three-time Indian Wells champion Rafa Nadal rallied to win from 5-2 down in the final set

Novak Djokovic avenged his only loss of 2016 with a ruthless 6-3 6-3 victory over Feliciano Lopez as the Serbian top seed eased into the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday.

An eye issue forced Djokovic to retire against his Spanish opponent at the Dubai Duty Free Championships last month but he had his sights set firmly on victory for their rematch in California.

The world number one needed just 66 minutes to prevail as he won 75 per cent of his points on serve and broke Lopez three times.

“I have respect for his game, which definitely made me very cautious of approaching this match and made me very determined to impose my game plan from the very beginning,” Djokovic told reporters.

“I was very solid. I didn’t allow him to come to the net too many times. It was a good performance.”

Djokovic enjoyed his best performance of the tournament to date and next meets Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-2, as the defending champion seeks an unprecedented fifth title at Indian Wells.

Earlier in the day, third seed Stan Wawrinka was sent packing in the fourth round and the Swiss was very nearly joined by Rafa Nadal, who pulled off a Houdini-like escape to reach the last eight.

Fourth seed Nadal, three times a champion at Indian Wells, rallied from 5-2 down in the final set, saving a match point on the way, before battling past 18-year-old German prospect Alexandr Zverev 6-7(8) 6-0 7-5.

The power-hitting Zverev had been bidding to become the youngest quarter-finalist at the event since 1989 and led 40-30 when serving for the match in the ninth game but his nerve deserted him at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“This is painful right now, but it doesn’t change anything about the process,” Zverev said.

Spanish left-hander Nadal won the last five games of the deciding set to advance and was delighted with the fightback.

“I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the fighting spirit during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations,” Nadal said.

Wawrinka was ousted by Belgian David Goffin, who sealed a 6-3 5-7 7-6(5) victory when his Swiss opponent netted a forehand in a closely contested tiebreak after a wildly fluctuating match that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours.

It was only the second time in his career that Goffin had beaten a player ranked in the top 10 and it earned him a spot in the last eight of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the second time.

Also advancing to the last eight was 12th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who overpowered sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-6(7).

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