Somdev knocks out Xavier Malisse, to meet Nadal

March 15th, 2011 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Somdev Devvarman Indian Wells (California), March 15 (IANS) India’s Somdev Devvarman won the last five points in the third-set tie-break to knock out Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5) to set up a pre-quarterfinal encounter with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament here.

Somdev, who is playing his third main draw here, was down 2-5 in the tie break when he reeled off five points to win the hard-fought match Monday at the BNP Paribas Open in two hours.

The 26-year-old India No. 1, ranked 84, who had never won a Masters 1000 match before coming here, beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and then upset 19th seed and World No 22 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus in the first two rounds.

Nadal outplayed Ameican qualifier Ryan Sweeting, 6-3, 6-1, in 68 minutes. This is the second time the Spaniard defeated the 22-year-old American this season, having beaten him at the Australian Open in January.

Somdev, who played the Chennai Open final in 2009 and the South African open final last month, won the first set against the 2007 Chennai winner comfortably, but the Belgian came back strongly in the second to force the issue to a third set.

The Indian, the Commonwealth and the Asian Games gold medallist, was at the exit door when Malisse jumped to 5-2 in the tiebreak. Somdev hung in to take five points in a row to clinch the set and match.

Somdev, a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) singles champion playing for the University of Virginia, defeated top-ranked American John Isner in the 2007 final and retained the title the next year. He came here after beating World No. 45 Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets in the Davis Cup tie in Novi Sad earlier this month.

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