INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) -World number two Rafael Nadal overpowered qualifier Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday (March 13) to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP Indian Wells Masters for the first time in three years.
Nadal said his performance on a windy stadium court wasn't as good as his 6-3, 6-1 third-round win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
But he was more than a match for 113th-ranked Krajinovic, breaking him early in each set and saving the only break point he faced in the one hour, 26-minute match.
He's in the last eight for the first time in three years after missing last year's edition, skipping both Indian Wells and the Miami Masters with a hip injury.
Nadal will take on either eighth-seeded American John Isner or 12th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals, trying to stay on track for a possible blockbuster semi-final with five-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer.
Swiss great Federer, fresh off his 100th career title in Dubai, played Britain's Kyle Edmund later in the day.
Nadal was joined in the quarters by a less likely name as 19-year-old Serb Miomir Kecmanovic became the first lucky loser to reach the last eight at Indian Wells since the ATP's Masters 1000 series launched in 1990.
Kecmanovic, ranked 130th in the world, had taken the first set against Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 when the 74th-ranked Japanese retired because of injury.
Kecmanovic, who gained entry to the second round when fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson withdrew with an elbow injury, is in his first ATP quarter-final.
"I'm really happy about it, especially since I didn't really do anything before this," he said. "Obviously tough to see your opponent retire like that, but I'm still happy that I managed to get to the quarters."
Kecmanovic next faces either Jan-Lennard Struff or 13th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic.
Struff booked their fourth-round meeting with a 6-3, 6-1 upset of third-seeded German compatriot Alexander Zverev.
Struff is vying to reach a first Masters series quarter-final.
Kecmanovic is one of two teenagers to make it to the fourth round, along with Denis Shapovalov.
The 19-year-old Canadian, seeded 24th, took on Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, who socked sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan in the third round.
At the other end of the age spectrum, 40-year-old Croatian Ivo Karlovic took on 25-year-old seventh seed Dominic Thiem of Austria.
The winner of that match will face either 18th-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils or unseeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber - who stunned world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Kohlschreiber, who had never beaten a top-ranked player in 11 prior attempts, will have to avoid a letdown against Monfils, who captured his eighth ATP title at Rotterdam last month.
It will be a tough task for Kohlschreiber, who has lost 13 of 15 prior meetings with Monfils.
"With Gael I had great matches, great battles," Kohlschreiber said. "I think he's the best athlete we have on tour."
He said Monfils offered a similar challenge to Djokovic, in that their defensive skills are "very, very high."
"You have to find a great rhythm of offensive play, don't overplay it," Kohlschreiber said.