Defending champion Rafael Nadal got a step closer to another Indian Wells title with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over James Blake at the Pacific Life Open.
I didn't see the first two and a half sets of the quarterfinal slugfest. I was watching the scoreboard and then I bit the bullet and purchased another subscription to ATP Masters Series TV. Even though oil is $3.69 USD up from $2.59 USD from a few weeks ago. Even though we burn 100 gallons of oil every two weeks. But I digress.
If the final games of the match were any indication, it must've been a great match. I'd like to have seen how Blake lost his break lead in the first set to love. But he was outplayed during what I saw. Rafa simply had an answer for all of Blake's power today and refused to be pushed behind the baseline.
That's the key to Rafa's success on hardcourts. Sure, Indian Wells is slower than, say, the US Open, but Blake beat Rafa when they played in the desert two years ago. If Rafa can play this kind of ball on hardcourts post Wimbledon, I'd imagine his late-season woes would subside.
In the semifinals, he'll get another chance at Novak Djokovic in a rematch of last year's final.