INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA // Rafael Nadal survived his strongest challenge yet at the BNP Paribas Open, beating the qualifier Somdev Devvarman 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals.
The world's top-ranked player dominated his first two matches, dropping just six games. But he was challenged from the start by Devvarman, the first Indian ever to reach the fourth-round at Indian Wells.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer, the No 2 seed and a three-time champion at Indian Wells, defeated the wild card Ryan Harrison 7-6, 6-3, improving to 17-2 this year.
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It was the 18-year-old American's third defeat to a top-10 player in his career.
"He was making it very hard for me," the 16-time grand slam champion Federer said courtside after playing Harrison for the first time. "It was a very tricky match. I think he's going to have a great future."
Nadal, a two-time winner here, won a tight first set, then held serve to lead 5-4 in the second. He got some breathing room on Devvarman's serve, going up 40-love and sending a forehand past the 26-year-old Indian at the net to close out the match.
Nadal improved to 29-4 at Indian Wells, where he's made the semi-finals or better the last five years, winning in 2007 and 2009.
The Spaniard broke Devvarman twice to win an erratic opening set and the second went with serve until Nadal again broke in the decisive 10th game.
Devvarman endeared himself to the crowd watching the action on the showpiece stadium court with his gritty play and occasional winners but Nadal finally sealed victory with a sublime passing shot. "For sure, he did well and had a very good tournament," Nadal said.