Rafael Nadal is marching his way through the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The top-ranked tennis star, who advanced to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive year Thursday night, defeated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7).
Nadal won on his third match point after Karlovic's forehand sailed long. Nadal shook hands and ran back on the court, leaping in the air, tossing his sweatbands into the crowd and pumping his fist.
"The match was the first one that I felt really that even if I play well, I can lose," said Nadal, who had been bothered by a left thigh injury recently. "That's always hard to go on court with this feeling."
He will play Juan Martin del Potro in Saturday's semifinals in pursuit of his third Indian Wells title. Del Potro advanced when 25th-seeded Tommy Robredo withdrew before their quarterfinal because he strained a left abductor muscle a day earlier.
Nadal led 5-2 in the tiebreaker before Karlovic tied it up with a backhand volley winner. Karlovic came up with the same shot to spoil Nadal's first match point.
Nadal set up his second match point with a forehand that landed just inside the sideline, but his forehand error allowed Karlovic to tie it 7-all. Nadal's forehand winner in the corner gave him a third match point and he finally converted on Karlovic's error.
"You lose a set against Karlovic and you are under pressure the rest of the games," Nadal said. "In the third, I didn't have chances. His serve was unstoppable. In the tiebreak I was really nervous. I returned fantastic in the tiebreak, but I didn't put one first serve on the court."
Karlovic had hardly been playing like his No. 239 ranking. He beat three seeded players to reach the quarterfinals, and pushed Nadal before losing to him for the fourth time.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.