INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) - World number five Rafael Nadal overpowered Japanese number one Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-3 to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals on Friday (March 18).
The swashbuckling Spaniard is looking for another stamp in his championship passport, having already won the joint ATP and WTA Tour tournament title in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
Nadal had just two aces but he really took care of his serve on Friday by winning 62 per cent of his first-serve points and breaking Nishikori four times.
He closed out the 93-minute match with a forehand down the line that Nishikori stumbled after but came nowhere close to getting a racquet on. Nadal improved to 8-1 lifetime against Nishikori and avenged a loss in their most recent prior meeting last year at Montreal.
The Nadal-Nishikori contest kicked off a star-studded quarter-final day at Indian Wells featuring four of the world’s top 10 players.
Nadal will face the winner of Friday’s other quarter-final between world number one Novak Djokovic and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, for a spot in the championship match.
Nadal and Djokovic are nearly even in their 47 head-to-head meetings, with the Serb owning a 24-23 edge.
Nadal has beaten Tsonga eight times in 12 matches. Nadal is also hoping to put to bed speculation that he is on a downward spiral. He has won 14 career Grand Slam titles but none in the past 18 months.