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Nadal rallies to reach fourth round in Miami

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, at Miami Open, on March 26, 2017 © Getty/AFP / Julian Finney

MIAMI, United States, Mar 26Rafael Nadal came back from an awful first set to defeat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 and advance to the fourth round of the Miami Open on Sunday.

The Spaniard, playing his 1,000th ATP match, suffered just the 14th 0-6 set of his career, claiming just 33 percent of first serve points won and making a string of unforced errors.

After looking badly out of sorts, Nadal was able to rediscover his form in the second set and in the end ran out a comfortable winner.

Nadal said that there was little he could do against Kohlschreiber’s outstanding play in the opening set.

“He was doing everything good. So that’s sport, as I said hundred of times and when somebody is playing the way that he was playing the first set … he was playing too good. That’s it,” said Nadal.

“The positive thing is I handled the pressure very well after a very tough first set. I resisted well the first few games of the second, and then I think I played a great second and third set,” he said.

Nadal said the key to his comeback had been his ability to change the tempo and rhythm of the match.

Kei Nishikori of Japan returns a shot against Fernando Verdasco of Spain, in Key Biscayne, Florida, on March 26, 2017 © Getty/AFP / Al Bello

“It was obvious that the points had been too quick. He was able to return so quick and to hit every ball as hard as he could. So I needed to play a little bit longer points.

“It’s not about being more or less aggressive, it’s about changing a little bit the position on the court. I went back on the return. I tried to play a little bit higher balls against his backhand.

“That happened …and I think my serve worked so good in the second and third set,” added Nadal, who next faces France’s Nicolas Mahut. Mahut beat Argentine Guido Pella 6-4 6-3.

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– Nishikori passes Verdasco test –

Japan’s Kei Nishikori came through a tough test against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7/2), 6-7(5/7) 6-1.

Last year’s beaten finalist, Nishikori will face Argentine Federico Del Bonis, who beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.

Verdasco has yet to post a win against a top ten opponent this year but showed plenty of spirit in a two hours 44 minute contest on center court at Crandon Park fighting back to win a second set tie-break.

But Nishikori stepped up in the third, running away with the set to ensure his progress.

“I knew it was going to be a tough one,” Nishikori said. “Fernando is a very solid player. He has a great serve and great groundstrokes. I knew it was going to be long rallies.

“But it was a shame when I was up a break in both first and second sets and both went to 7-6. I made some mistakes when I was up a break. But in the third set I was very focused,” he added.

Injury-plagued world number five Milos Raonic pulled out of the tournament shortly before his match against American Jared Donaldson, citing a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Canada’s Raonic originally suffered the injury in the semi-final at Delray Beach and was forced to forfeit the final against American Jack Sock. He then missed this month’s Masters event at Indian Wells.

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