By BETH HARRIS, Associated Press
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic defeated Sam Querrey 6-0, 7-6 (6) to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open early Thursday morning in a match that began four hours late after a marathon day.
Djokovic was brutally efficient in the first set after walking unsmiling onto the court as the remaining fans made their way from the stadium's upper reaches to the lower bowl. Querrey, who will take over as the top-ranked American in the next ATP Tour rankings, fought back in the second set.
Djokovic held at 6-all to force the tiebreaker, in which he took a 5-1 lead. Querrey rallied again to tie it at 6-all on a forehand crosscourt winner as some fans yawned.
But then Querrey committed two straight errors to end the 1-hour, 25-minute match.
"It's been a very long day for all of us and I'm very grateful for all of you staying," Djokovic told the few hundred fans who stuck around. "Obviously, it was very frustrating waiting the whole day and then going out after midnight."
Djokovic stayed loose by kicking around a soccer ball on the grounds as he waited for the backlogged day session, which included four straight three-set matches, to finish and for Maria Sharapova to complete the first night match.
"I was really frustrated and trying to hold my emotions," Djokovic said.
Sharapova defeated sixth-seeded Sara Errani 7-6 (6), 6-2 to reach the women's semifinals without dropping a set. She next plays No. 13 seed Maria Kirilenko, who beat No. 5 Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to make the semis for the first time here. Kirilenko improved to 6-0 in three-set matches this year.
Rafael Nadal ended the run of Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory that set up a quarterfinal against defending champion Roger Federer, who survived a three-set marathon of his own, beating 18th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-5.
Gulbis was on a 13-match winning streak, having made his way through the qualifying rounds at Delray Beach, Fla., where he won the title, and at Indian Wells, where he won three main-draw matches, including two over seeded players.
He was playing his 14th match in 19 days, and has yet to beat Nadal in five tries.
"I think that I played better tennis. I was more aggressive," Gulbis said. "I went for my shots much more than he. But he did really incredibly well, as he always does, on important points."
Gulbis held serve to lead 5-4 in the third. He led 30-15 on Nadal's serve, but lost the next five points to let Nadal tie the set.
Nadal earned the only break of the third to go up 6-5, then closed out the win on his third match point. He leaped, tore off his headband and pumped his left arm, yelling, "Yeah!"
"With all the problems, I was able to keep being focused and keep winning," he said. "I really appreciate every moment and every victory."
The fifth-seeded Spaniard opened his bid for a third Indian Wells title with a two-set victory over American Ryan Harrison, Nadal's first hard-court match in nearly a year.
He returned to the ATP Tour a month ago, winning two of three tournaments on clay after missing seven months because of a left knee injury. Nadal, shaken by an earthquake that rattled Indian Wells on Monday, had a walkover in his third-round match when Leonardo Mayer withdrew with a bad back.
"I said before the tournament my knee, some days good, some days not that good. Today so-so," he said. "But I fought. I fought every ball."
Wawrinka's consecutive forehand errors in the gathering dusk of an unusually hot day in the California desert closed out his 10th consecutive loss to Federer on hard courts. The temperature reached 96 degrees — nearly 20 degrees above normal — during the day.
Federer, a four-time champion at Indian Wells, is going for his first ATP Tour title since last August. He'll have to get by Nadal in the earliest meeting between the two stars since the first time they played each other in 2004.
"In the past, this match used to be a final. Now it's a quarterfinal, so obviously it's a bit of bad luck of the draw for both of us," Federer said, noting that between his bothersome back and Nadal's left knee "we are both a bit suspect."