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Next up... Nadal

Less than a month since he faced Roger Federer, Somdev Devvarman has earned a clash with world number one Rafael Nadal. HT reports. Memorable month for Somdev

sports Updated: Mar 16, 2011 01:11 IST
HT Correspondent

Less than a month since he faced Roger Federer, Somdev Devvarman has earned a clash with world number one Rafael Nadal.

The top-ranked Indian fought back from 2-5 down in the third set tiebreak, to beat Belgium's Xavier Malisse 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the ATP Indian Wells Masters on Monday. Somdev will take on Nadal in the pre-quarters on Wednesday.

"Rafa is obviously No. 1 in the world, won a lot of Grand Slams," said Somdev. "I have a lot of respect for the guy. He's one of my favourite tennis players, one of my idols, so when I'm out there I'm going to do everything I can to win the match. I'm going to compete as hard as I can and leave everything on the table."

Somdev qualified for the tournament to make his third main draw appearance at the Masters event and had a high-profile scalp - that of Marcos Baghdatis in the second round - to show before he played Malisse.

The last time the two had met, the Belgian was finding his feet back on the court after a long injury lay-off. Somdev had scored a straight-set win over Malisse in the first round of the 2010 South Africa Open.

But on Monday, Malisse overcame a slow start to win the second set 6-3 and take the match into the third.

He was in a commanding position in the third set tiebreak too, but the Indian surged late to pocket five points in a row and clinch the match in two hours.

It has been an eventful past month for Somdev, as he's had the experience of playing Federer and beating two top-50 players (Baghdatis and Janko Tipsarevic).

"It's one of those things when you're playing with confidence, playing well, you want to keep playing, and it doesn't happen too often," said Somdev.

"I mean, for Rafa and Federer it does, but for the majority of the players it's one of those things you want to kind of ride the momentum and keep playing, keep playing with adrenaline, and hope for the best in your next match."

Nadal, meanwhile, will face a third straight qualifier at the tournament.

He defeated America's Ryan Sweeting, 6-3, 6-1 in the third round on Monday.

"In general, I'm happy with the serve, happy with the backhand," Nadal said after the win.

"Forehand is always my best shot, and I need to be aggressive to have good chances to be in the right position to have a good tournament."