Third seed Stan Wawrinka was sent packing in the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open in California on Wednesday and was very nearly joined by Rafa Nadal, who pulled off a Houdini-like escape to reach the last eight.
Fourth seed Nadal, three times a champion at Indian Wells, came from 5-2 down in the final set and saved a match point before battling past 18-year-old German prospect Alexandr Zverev 6-7(8) 6-0 7-5.
The power-hitting Zverev had been bidding to become the youngest quarter-finalist at the event since 1989 and led 40-30 when serving for the match but his nerve deserted him at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The German, rated by Nadal as “a possible future number one”, netted a forehand for deuce, then netted another for break point before dumping a third into the net to be broken.
Spanish left-hander Nadal won the last five games of the deciding set to reach the quarter-finals, where he will face either fifth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori or American John Isner, who were playing later on Wednesday.
Wawrinka was ousted by Belgian David Goffin, who sealed a 6-3 5-7 7-6(5) victory when his Swiss opponent netted a forehand in a closely contested tiebreak after a wildly fluctuating match that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours.
It was only the second time in his career that Goffin had beaten a player ranked in the top 10, and it earned him a spot in the last eight of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the second time.
The 25-year-old Belgian will next meet big-serving Croat Marin Cilic, who beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-5 5-7 6-2.
“It was the best win of my career, for sure,” Goffin told Tennis Channel after an often erratic encounter in searing heat that featured 13 breaks of serve.
“I had some problems with my serve, a little bit with my toss. It was tough with the heat and the sun to control the ball.”
After breaking Wawrinka three times to sweep through the opening set, Goffin raced into 5-3 leads in both the second and third without managing to serve out for victory.
Wawrinka, who smashed his racket in frustration early in the second set, levelled the match as the Belgian’s service game wavered and won three of the last four games in the third.
However, at 5-5 in the tiebreak, the Swiss stunningly hit a forehand smash long with Goffin completely stranded to hand his opponent match point and the Belgian clinched the win when Wawrinka hit a forehand into the net.
Also advancing into the last eight was Canadian Milos Raonic, the 12th seed, who overpowered sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-6 (7).
In other later matches on Wednesday, defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic faces Spaniard Feliciano Lopez while seventh-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on Austria’s Dominic Thiem.