Rafael Nadal has booked a place in the quarterfinals at the Swiss Indoors in Basel after defeating Grigor Dimitrov in three tight sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The Spaniard, who also had to battle hard to overcome Lukas Rosol in the first round, responded well to the challenges that faced him in the encounter. There were lots of momentum changes, but it was Nadal who was ultimately able to perform better when it mattered, and fight his way through.
Strong Start From Dimitrov
Nadal kicked off the match with a fantastic forehand winner deep into the far corner, but in a scrambling point that followed, the Bulgarian forced the error. A couple of unforced errors from Nadal gave Dimitrov a break point, which he took, as the Spaniard netted a backhand. He then consolidated the break of serve nicely with some strong serves and a forehand winner. It was a nervy start from Nadal, but a comfortable one for Dimitrov.
Nadal then managed to hold with some good deep hitting to crawl out of a 0-30 hole, and get himself on the board for the first time in the match. Dimitrov then followed with a much simpler hold at 15, with strong points including a spectacular lob. Rafa had another complicated hold, with his service game a combination of some of his weapons in action, but lots of mishits thrown in too. Then, both Dimitrov and Nadal held comfortably, taking advantage of the other's errors. The Bulgarian was still up a break though, at 4-3.
Nadal Fights Back
A very aggressive return from Nadal lit a spark, slowly building his confidence. Then, a great volley aimed right at Dimitrov was enough for his opponent to mishit his, giving the Spaniard a break point. With another aggressive return, Rafa clinched hold of the game and the crucial break back for 4-4 in the first set. Nadal then consolidated very nicely, holding with some confident serves, sealing it with an ace. Dimitrov then had the major challenge of serving to stay in the set, which seemed to go to plan as he sent himself up 30-0. However, some aggressive and deep shots from Nadal put pressure on the Bulgarian, and with an error from him, the Spaniard clinched hold of the break and the first set 6-4, reeling off four games in a row.
Running Start In The Second For Dimitrov
Very deep and heavy hitting from Dimitrov allowed him to snatch the first game of the set with a break. He then consolidated, helped along with another nervy start to the set from Nadal. Then, unlike the first set where he started to find his feet, the Spaniard remained on edge, and with his game riddled with mishits, Dimitrov broke serve again to go up 3-0. Nadal displayed a couple of good signs in the net game- an incredible backhand passing shot at the net and a nice dropshot, but it was Dimitrov who got out of the game at 30 and consolidated the second break. 4-0.
A better, more confident game from Nadal saw him hold serve for the first time in the second set, and then the Spaniard forced some errors off Dimitrov's racket to get one of the breaks back. It appeared that the Spaniard was getting back into the set now, playing more intelligently and hitting deeper, but despite holding his own serve, he couldn't get on the Bulgarian's. Although he got one of the breaks back, Dimitrov stayed secure and was able to serve out the second set 6-4.
Another Early Break For Dimitrov In The Third
The Bulgarian grabbed hold of another early break, taking advantage of a couple of errors from Nadal. Dimitrov's strong serving then allowed him to consolidate the break at 2-0, but an extremely confident love service game from his opponent gave the third seed a spark. Despite Dimitrov leading at 30-0, Rafa got back into the game with some nice variation and deeper groundstrokes. Dimitrov finished it in the worst way possible, with his smash landing in the net, but for Nadal it meant that he took back the break and evened things out in the third set for 2-2.
Nadal Takes Control
Dimitrov started to let his frustration get to him, as he had to battle extremely hard to hold in a game over seven minutes long. The game was packed full of really high quality tennis from both, but the Bulgarian managed to hold with some of his reliable serving. Nadal then followed up with a much easier hold to 15. He was turning his defence into attack really nicely and setting up shots with ease. Then, the Spaniard put Dimitrov's backhand under pressure and forced him to make errors. With a spectacular forehand down the line passing shot, he gained break point then on his second attempt, he took to get the crucial break for 5-3.
Nadal needed just one more game to close out the match, but it was very tight, with Dimitrov having two break points opportunities. Nadal recovered from the errors he made with some good defence, and with a flashy backhand down the line followed by a smash, he set up an opportunity to close out the match. With Dimitrov's shot landing long, Nadal clenched his fist and earned the victory, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The third seed will now play either Marin Cilic or Teymuraz Gabashvili in the quarterfinal.