Rafael Nadal fought his way to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over streaking Latvian Ernests Gulbis Wednesday and set up a blockbuster quarter-final against Roger Federer at the Indian Wells Masters.
Nadal, playing his fourth tournament since a seven-month injury absence, needed three match points to finally subdue Gulbis, who had won the title as a qualifier at Delray Beach prior to Indian Wells and after qualifying here beaten two seeded players on his way to the fourth round.
Nadal mustered only one break point against Gulbis in the third set, but it was all he needed.
An overhead winner gave Nadal a 15-40 lead in the 11th game, and Gulbis netted a forehand on break point to leave Nadal to serve for the match.
When he finally blasted a forehand winner on his third match point, Nadal gave a little leap of joy, then pumped his fist to the cheers of a packed house.