Indian Wells, March 16: Rafael Nadal avenged a fresh loss to a fellow Spaniard and Serena Williams set up a showdown with the reigning Indian Wells champion at the ATP and WTA hardcourt tournament on Tuesday.
Nadal saved five set points to finish off a two-set victory over Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 7-6 (11-9) in the third round on the main stadium court.
World number one Williams routed 70th ranked Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at Indian Wells, one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar outside of the four Grand Slams.
Men's top seed Novak Djokovic, who is aiming for his third straight and a record fifth overall Indian Wells crown, defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 7-5 in the night match.
Nadal, the nine-time French Open champion who turns 30 in June, avenged his first-round loss to Verdasco at the Australian Open in January.
Nadal moved a step closer to a fourth trophy in the California desert, where he took the title in 2013, 2009 and 2007.
The swashbuckling Spaniard next faces German Alexander Zverev who defeated Gilles Simon in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.
Nadal, who is seeded fourth, roared through the first set without dropping a game, but Verdasco came to life in the second, eventually forcing a tiebreak.
Nadal fought off five set points before clinching it when Verdasco hit a backhand long to end the one hour, 41 minute contest.
"It was a tough match, but I resisted," said Nadal, who broke Verdasco five times. "I lost a few matches this year that I had a chance to win so I need to play more matches like this."
Verdasco wasn't going down without a fight. Serving in the tiebreaker -- and down 6-7 on match point -- he challenged an out call and won, reversing the judge's call and allowing him to level at 7-7.
Nadal improved to 15-3 overall against Verdasco but they have had some memorable contests since their first encounter in 2005 in Doha. ?AFP