World No. 2 Rafael Nadal needed over three hours to take out five-time Tour titlist Fernando Verdasco in the Round of 16 Thursday to a packed Center Court. He defeated his compatriot 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 7-6(9) in one of the longest matches of the tournament so far.
To thunderous applause, Nadal closed out the match on his fifth match point. The win constitutes just the second best-of-three match in Nadal's career that has gone the distance to three tie-breaks.
"The truth is that I am very happy. Very content with the victory. It was a tough match for both of us. Now I’m looking ahead to my next round and I hope to continue playing well here in Cincinnati," said Nadal.
This is the fifth time that the Spaniard has reached the quarterfinals (or better) in Cincinnati. He’ll next meet top-ranked American Mardy Fish, who currently leads the Olympus US Open Series with a win in Atlanta and runner-up results in Los Angles and Montreal.
Fish took out France’s Richard Gasquet, the No. 12 seed, 7-5, 7-5.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Samantha Stosur defeated 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Stosur, last year’s French Open runner-up and a finalist in Toronto this year, has now defeated Li three times this year. Up next for the Australian is three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, who advanced to the quarterfinals by beating World No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Meanwhile, World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva also advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating Petra Martic 6-2, 6-2.
Zvonareva, a two-time Cincinnati finalist, defeated the qualifier Martic in just over an hour. She next faces World No. 23 Daniela Hantuchova, who defeated 2011 Eastbourne champion Marion Bartoli 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
In other results from Thursday’s completed matches, the No. 8 seed Tomas Berdych beat Nicholas Almagro 6-2, 6-2, while World No. 4 Andy Murray took out American Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 7-5.
For the women, Nadia Petrova defeated American teenager Christina McHale, who upset World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday.
By Benjamin Snyder