• Nadal, Nalbandian clash for Indian Wells semifinal spot

    3/16/12 3:35 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal, Nalbandian clash for Indian Wells semifinal spot David Nalbandian has made an impressive run in Indian Wells and his reward is a date with Rafael Nadal on Friday. The two competitors are battling for a spot in the semifinals.

    Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they meet in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday afternoon.

    All five of their previous encounters have come on hard courts and Nadal has won three in a row to take a 3-2 lead in the head-to-head series. After Nalbandian prevailed twice in 2007, Nadal got revenge with victories in Indian Wells (2009), Miami (2010), and at the U.S. Open (2011). The first two went three sets and Nadal won a competitive three-setter last season in New York.

    Another high-quality showdown should be expected, because both players are in fine form. Nalbandian is down at No. 74 in the rankings mostly due to injury, but he is on a fast track back into the top 50. The 30-year-old Argentine is 11-4 for the year following wins this fortnight over Potito Starace, Marin Cilic, Janko Tipsarevic, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

    Despite more than a month layoff in the aftermath of his epic Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic, Nadal has been the most dominant player so far in Indian Wells. The second-ranked Spaniard has not come close to losing a set in blowouts of Leonardo Mayer, Marcel Granollers, and Alexandr Dolgopolov. Nadal is now 13-2 for his 2012 campaign.

    Nadalbandian's ball-striking will once again challenge Nadal, because the underdog can take balls early and gain the upper hand in rallies. This court surface, however, is likely playing too slow for Nalbandian to pull off an improbable upset. Nadal in two entertaining sets is the pick.

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Vamos Rafa

nadline , 3/16/12 7:44 AM

Good luck Rafa & Vamos.

schatz , 3/16/12 12:14 PM

if there are any indians reading this, MANY MANY MANY CONGRATS on sachin tendulkar's CENTURY OF CENTURIES ! 100th century in internationak cricket :O :O cricket would not have been the same without the master, feel lucky to witness this ! many salutations and congrats from Pakistan :)

vamosrafa , 3/16/12 2:06 PM

vamosrafa, not just Indians! Us Europeans can appreciate how fabulous Tendulkar is, and offer him our congratulations too :)

deuce , 3/16/12 2:28 PM

Nalby will take a set.

And don't be surprised if he upsets Nadal. But considering this slow hard court (as almost all of them, nowadays) that's quiet improbable.

Emiliano55 , 3/16/12 3:05 PM

its amazing what Sachin can do to us Indians. Office seminar, stopped for 5 mins (they actually switched to show Tendulkar completing his century on the projector before continuing). Amazing feat....

On tennis - this is a bit of a scary match for Rafa. Nalby has to win it in 2, else Rafa will beat him of it goes to the 3rd set.

atul1985 , 3/16/12 3:11 PM

If anyone thought the rules of tennis were strange, these are the rules of cricket:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in the lounge.

Each man that's in the side that's in, goes out, and when he's out, he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.

When they are all out the side that's out comes in and the side that''s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When both sides have been in and out including the not-outs, that's the end of the game.


nadline , 3/16/12 3:30 PM

Well done to Tendulkar and his fans and fellow countrymen.

Back to Rafa and tennis, if Rafa serves well and plays aggressively, he'll beat Nalby. If he plays like he did during their match in IW 2009, then Rafa will create a mess out of it. Hopefully the right Rafa turns up to play. Vamos Rafa, go for the win!

luckystar , 3/16/12 3:53 PM

Nalby may take a set, but Rafa for the win I pick!!!


Sorry, though from the Caribbean/West Indies (St. Lucia)...........I have never been a cricket fan............find it a tad boring!!!!

But congrats to Tendulkar and his fans!!!!..........amazing!!!!

Monalysa , 3/16/12 4:01 PM

Luckystar, at IW in 2009, Rafa was in awe of Nalby having lost to him 2:0, but once he got over that, he saved 5 match points from 1 set and 2:5 down to take the 3rd set 6:0 and Nalby hasn't beaten him since so I don't think the Rafa of 2009 will turn up today.

nadline , 3/16/12 4:08 PM

Nalbandian is a great player and I respect him a lot and to come back from match point down to Tsonga is down to his fighting spirit & good tennis. Rest assured Rafa will not underestimate him. I hope it is a good match but of course I want Rafa to win.

I was there for that match between them in IW in 2009. It was well after midnight when it finished and I shall never forget it. I was still buzzing when I got back to the hotel and knew that I had watched something special - Rafa coming back from the brink of defeat & wining for the first time against Nalbandian.

schatz , 3/16/12 4:32 PM

Congratulations on the century of centuries!!!

As for which Rafa will show up today. I hope it won't be a hesitant one, but could happen I suppose. He looks like he means business this week.

But I don't think we can see the IW '09 Rafa show up. That was weeks after the flight back home from the AO - when he learned from his dad about his parents' separation. IW '09 was the last tournament before Miami '09 when we started to see clearly that something was not right at all with Rafa - turned out to be his knees and his parents' separation.

chlorostoma , 3/16/12 6:25 PM

Very true chlorostoma - I hope something like that never happens to Rafa again.

schatz , 3/16/12 7:10 PM

Nadal will end up winning this, but Nalby already took the first set. Told you so ;)

Emiliano55 , 3/17/12 12:04 AM

Rafa loses the first set - 6:4.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 3/17/12 12:04 AM

Justin Gimelstob made a comment yesterday on Tennis Channel that, according to current form, Rafa is a clear favorite to win the tournament.

danica , 3/17/12 12:22 AM

phewwwww Thank God rafa held on to that service game ! he has to get a break very soon or he'l be out in 2 sets. Rafa is not looking comfortable at all and i am sure a lo tof it has to do with rafa getting nervous whenever he plays against nalby. I hope he goes inside out more often

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 12:22 AM

Sigh. Rafa has too much respect for Nalby, and I hate to say it, too much fear of Nalby too. He's starting off so slowly, making so many UEs! He has good chances to convert his break chances in the first set and wins it, but he ends up losing the set! Hopefully he can do better in this second set. Why is he going CC all the time? He's asking for troubles!

luckystar , 3/17/12 12:27 AM

Rafa doesn't look himself tonight...was there ever in any match that he made so many UEs...he is losing this match with his errors...Nalby is playing well, but it is Rafa who is having such a bad day in the office...

natashao , 3/17/12 12:40 AM

Rafa is never a favorite in a tournament that also includes Djokovic until he actually beats Djokovic once.

This is not the first time Gimelstob has been wrong....and it wont be the last!

RickyDimon , 3/17/12 12:49 AM

Rafa takes the 2nd set 7:5.

nadline , 3/17/12 1:01 AM

comeonnnn !!! vamossss !!! he'l take the match now

@ricky, i agree with your comment but not in ALL tournaments!!! RG's favorite IS rafa no matter what happens.

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:02 AM


You are here! I have been too nervous to even come on here and post. I just don't know what's up with all those UE's. Is Rafa sick? Or just having one of those days?

The closer it got to the match, the more nervous I became. I know how tough Nalby is for Rafa.

Oh and I agree about RG! Rafa has earned that status because of his six titles and Nole hasn't beaten him there yet.

Nativenewyorker , 3/17/12 1:12 AM

rafa is making really strange errors today. The main problem has been finishing points off ! so many times he has been able to boss the point and then miss an easy backhand finish ! but the good thing is that he is up 2-0 :) just get the W rafa

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:15 AM

hey native, how have you been? :) rafa is fit and he has played some great shots. I am impressed by the way he has used massive inside out forehands to get himself out of trouble, had he reverted to the cross court position the would have been surely over in2 sets. The main worry is the unusual number of mistakes ! i think rafa will do something about it, just get the W here !

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:19 AM

cross court pattern**

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:21 AM

Excellent serve and volleying there from rafa !

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:24 AM

rafa has played some scintillating tennis in the last 3 games,unplayable when he is in that kind of mode ! VAMOS ! that is how you are supposed to play ma boy !

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:34 AM

And now Rafa's service game was broken while serving for the match! Can't believe my eyes! Come on Rafa, finish this match here!!

luckystar , 3/17/12 1:46 AM


Vamos Rafa

What a great match. The crowd certainly got their money's worth.

nadline , 3/17/12 1:54 AM

OMG ! what was rafa doing there, he gave us soo many scares and nalby impressed me with his fighting spirits. I know rafa made some annoying errors but for me there are many positives to take from this. Rafa will be fine now

vamosrafa , 3/17/12 1:55 AM

I bet Roger was beginning to lick his chops that it's Nalby he would be facing, but, no, it's Rafa.

Should be interesting.

nadline , 3/17/12 1:56 AM

Thank goodness Rafa wins!! Commentators said he had problems closing out matches, luckily he did it here! Like I said, Rafa might create a mess for himself, as I feel he's still short of confidence. With this win, I think it'll help him to build on his confidence. He certainly needs that for his next match(matches)!

Credit to Nalby for making this a match, and not going away even when he's two breaks down in the third set. What a match and I'm glad Rafa has come through with a win! So Rafa has reached the SF here seven years in a row! Wow! And we're having Fedal SF once again!

luckystar , 3/17/12 2:03 AM

Congrats Nadal fans. I love Roger. It's TIME!

sky , 3/17/12 2:03 AM

huh...what a match...I have a terrible headache now but with Rafa wining the match it will soon go away...I just knew it would not be easy with Nalby as it never was...but Rafa made it easier for nalby with his UEs...he has to cut off on those, otherwise Fed will have an easy job...

I enormously admire the warrior in Rafa and his never give up is simply amazing! That is why I adore him so much...

Vamos Rafa!

Vamos Rafa!!

natashao , 3/17/12 2:06 AM

Looking forward to an awesome match between Fedal, will be hard to beat what we have just seen. Great tennis.

sky , 3/17/12 2:08 AM

Wow! 39 UE's for Rafa! I had visions of Tsonga failing to serve for the match and then Nalby going on to win. However, Rafa is not Tsonga!

Rafa will know that he got the win not playing his best against one of his most difficult opponents.

Rafa seems to need to be tested in order raise his level of play. I had a feeling that it would be a tough match. I have no idea why Rafa was missing so many shots he would make in his sleep.

I just remember the quarterfinal match with Berdy at the AO. Rafa was down a set and facing set point to go two sets down. Then he came to life and brought some of his best tennis. In this match, he was two points away from defeat. But somehow Rafa managed to get the win.

The fans are going to go crazy with a Rafa/Fed semifinal!

Nativenewyorker , 3/17/12 2:16 AM

Chapeau to Nalby. And what a thril to see Rafa fight and play brilliantly to turn it around. I hope he can play with few jitters tomorrow and hopefully Sunday. He played a lot better against Novak at the AO... he has a real chance this week if he gets to the final.

Sky, may the best man on the day win tomorrow. I didn't know before that you too live in Canada.

chlorostoma , 3/17/12 2:21 AM

Very much hit and miss performance from Rafa. But the main positive is that he can play through such erratic form and still emerge victorious. Hopefully he's ironed out all the errors in this match as he cannot afford as many mistakes against Fed tomorrow.

lebsta2 , 3/17/12 2:30 AM

Very happy that Rafa's fighting spirit got him through this tough match - one of the reasons why I am a Rafa fan.

Hopefully this will give him confidence for what is ahead.

Congrats Rafa & vamos.

schatz , 3/17/12 8:50 AM

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