Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both battled through three-set thrillers on Wednesday to set up a mouthwatering quarter-final clash at Indian Wells.
Defending champion Federer defeated fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, laboring for 2 hours, 20 minutes to subdue his old friend.
Nadal, playing his fourth tournament since returning from a seven-month injury absence, outlasted the in-form Latvian Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
The other two of the “big four” of men’s tennis also reached the quarter-finals of the combined ATP Masters and WTA event.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated the US’ Sam Querrey 6-0, 7-6 (8/6) in a match that started after midnight and finished at about 2am yesterday.
World No. 3 Andy Murray beat unseeded Argentine Carlos Berlocq 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
Djokovic’s late night was the result of some long matches on Wednesday on Stadium Court.
Nadal is playing his first hard-court tournament since left-knee tendinitis forced him out of the Miami Masters in March last year.
The last time he played Federer was in the semi-finals at Indian Wells last year, when he lost 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic took the court at 12:23am against Querrey, but there was no upset for the American this time as the world’s top player set aside the frustration of his long wait to win in 1 hour, 27 minutes.
Djokovic, a two-time winner at Indian Wells in 2008 and 2011, next faces France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 winner over Canadian Milos Raonic.
Murray is to take on another Argentine, seventh-seeded Juan Martin del Potro. Del Potro cruised past German veteran Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-2.
Sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych beat France’s Richard Gasquet 6-1, 7-5 to advance to a quarter-final meeting with South African Kevin Anderson — a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 winner over France’s Gilles Simon.
In the women’s competition, Maria Sharapova progressed to the semi-finals on Wednesday with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 victory over Sara Errani in a rematch of last year’s French Open final.
The Russian beat the Italian in the Roland Garros title match last year to complete a career Grand Slam, and again triumphed this time round.
In the semi-finals she is to face Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, who beat 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Kirilenko, who beat third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round, improved to 6-0 in three-set matches this year and reached the Indian Wells semi-finals for the first time in 10 appearances.