Top seed Rafael Nadal was tested Thursday as he fought off the pesky Frenchman Julien Benneteau in three sets. Nadal dropped the first set 5-7 as Benneteau unleashed his full repertoire of shot-making abilities. The Spaniard fought back in the second to claim it in a tiebreak 7-6(6). Nadal snatched the early break in the third and captured the match 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-2. Nadal will meet Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinals Friday. Baghdatis upset the No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets 7-5, 6-4.
No. 3 seed and 2008 champion Andy Murray needed three sets and a final set tiebreak to advance against the dangerous Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis challenged the Scotsman for every point, earning nine break points, but Murray was able to save enough of them to secure the match. He advanced by the slim margin of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).
Playing his second three-set match in as many days, Murray was visibly tired in the second and third set with his serve speeding dipping into the 70s on a few occasions. Murray summoned energy when he needed it, however, firing off a 121 mph serve to win the match.
Murray will face American wildcard Mardy Fish who won his third consecutive match in Cincinnati, defeating the powerful Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2. Fish continues to be on fire this summer, having won two titles in Atlanta and Newport after shedding more than 30 pounds since last year. Fish next will face 2008 champion Andy Murray in quarterfinal action Friday.
The road to the quarterfinals wasn’t as difficult for the No. 3 seed Roger Federer. The three time Cincinnati champion advanced after the German Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew with a shoulder injury. Federer will be fresh for his quarterfinal match on Friday as he has yet to play a complete set in the tournament. On Wednesday, qualifier Denis Istomin retired with Federer leading 5-2 in the first. He awaits the winner of Thursday’s night Grandstand match between David Ferrer and Nikolay Davydenko.
The Serbian Novak Djokovic cruised through his first set against David Nalbandian 6-1, but stumbled in the second, having to claim the match in a second set tiebreak 7-6(7). The No. 2 seed will meet the winner of two-time Cincinnati champion Andy Roddick and No. 5 seed Robin Soderling being played at 7 p.m. Thursday night.