Andy Roddick struggled to victory as Juan Martin del Potro and James Blake made it look easy, advancing to the quarter-finals at the SAP Open on Thursday.
Roddick had his hands full as he defeated Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6 (3). Last year, Gulbis gave Roddick trouble at the US Open when he took the first set before the American took the match in four.
“I guess I started off pretty well,” Roddick said. “But he started serving really well in the second set.”
Roddick, who is trying to win the tournament for a record fourth time, used his powerful serve to comfortably take the first set.
Gulbis almost leveled the match, keeping up with the American point for point until the losing the tiebreaker.
Although Gulbis had six double faults, he constantly flustered Roddick with his strong serves and return game. At one point after being aced, Roddick tossed his racket to the side in disbelief.
“It was a little frustrating to not be able to get into a rhythm at all,” Roddick said. “And then he started hitting first serves for second serves. If he’s making it, there isn’t much I can do. A lot of the time he plays pretty high-risk so you are kind of at his mercy.”
Second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina made short work of Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-2 to make it the quarter-finals.
Blake of the US beat Florent Serra of France 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals of a tournament he’s never won despite having now made the last eight four times.
“I played really well again,” Blake said. “I served well. It was a slightly different matchup; he’s not going to hit so many cold winners off returns but he will put a lot of balls into play, and I got a lot balls out of his reach.”
■ABN AMRO TOURNAMENT
AP, ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was pushed hard by 17-year-old junior champion Grigor Dimitrov in prevailing 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the ABN Amro quarter-finals on Thursday.
Dimitrov showed he wasn’t nervous or intimidated when the 478th-ranked wild card from Bulgaria broke Nadal for 4-4, only to lose his serve again at 5-5 as Nadal won the first set.
Last year’s Wimbledon and US Open junior champ broke Nadal at 4-3 in the second and held on to force a decider.
There, Nadal’s experience told, as he saved two break points and finally won after 2 hours, 26 minutes, as Dimitrov suffered leg cramps.