- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. (AP) - Rafael Nadal edged Andy Roddick 6-4, 7-6 (4) Saturday to move into the BNP Paribas final.

No. 1 Nadal, constantly powering his forehand into the corner to Roddick’s backhand, ended several long rallies by passing Roddick with a shot down the line when the American came to the net.

Nadal, the 2007 Indian Wells champion, improved to 5-2 against the seventh-ranked Roddick.

The 22-year-old Spaniard next will play Andy Murray, who beat Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 for his fourth straight victory over the former world No. 1.

Nadal finished with 17 forehand winners to Roddick’s four. Nadal also was effective when he went to the net, winning 11 of 15 points to Roddick’s 10 of 27.

Nadal will have another difficult match Sunday against Murray, a 21-year-old Scot who’s off to 20-1 start this year and already has won two tournaments.

“I think he’s more focused all the time, he’s more regular,” Nadal said. “Before, he has one good match and later he plays one set well and two sets not at the same level.

“Right now he’s playing all the time very solid and very regular. You look at his results the last seven, eight months, he’s not losing to anyone. He only loses against the best, and not a lot of times.”

Nadal smiled and added, “I hope tomorrow.”

Roddick still left Indian Wells with a trophy. Shortly after his loss to Nadal, he joined Mardy Fish for the men’s doubles final. They beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 3-6, 6-1, 14-12 (super tiebreaker).

Roddick thanked Fish for “carrying” him during the doubles, saying, “Especially today, I was a little down after the singles match and he picked me up.”

No. 4 Murray won for the sixth time in eight career matches against Federer.

The 27-year-old Federer, whose four-year stint at No. 1 ended last year, made some outstanding shots against Murray, and some awful ones. Inconsistency remains his problem as he tries to fight his way back to the top.

The Swiss star made a whopping 32 unforced errors, including several by clanging routine shots off the frame of his racket. Murray was a model of consistency, scrambling back and forth to keep the ball in play and making just 15 unforced errors.

After Federer came back to win the second set, Murray earned a break in the fourth game of the third to take control. Murray had a scary moment in that game when his feet slipped out from under him and he did the splits while trying to stop, turn and get to a shot behind him. He yelled in pain, but got up off the court a few seconds later and obviously wasn’t hampered _ he won the next three points.

“I was worried for him, went down badly, screamed,” Federer said. “I was happy to see that he got back up.”

Said Murray: “Obviously a bit scared at first, then once I got up and ran around after a couple of points, I knew that it felt OK.”

Federer praised Murray for his counterpunching ability.

“He’s got great feel, so he’s very confident at the moment,” the Swiss star said. “He knows he doesn’t need to play close to the lines because he knows he can cover the court really well.

“I think that calms him down mentally. I think that’s why he’s playing so well.”

Murray, who already has won at Dubai and Rotterdam this season, said he concentrated on mixing up his pace against Federer.

“If I started trading big groundstrokes with someone like Federer, I think he likes that,” he said. “I haven’t done it against him and I don’t do it against many people. That’s my style, very rarely do I lose matches having let the other guy play his natural game.”

Vera Zvonareva, who defeated Victoria Azarenka in the women’s semis, joined with Azarenka to take the women’s doubles title, beating Gisela Dulko and Shahar Peer 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 (super tiebreaker).

Zvonareva will face defending champion Ana Ivanovic for the title on Sunday.

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