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Los Angeles, Mar 14 (EFE).- Spain's Rafael Nadal battled Latvia's Ernests Gulbis for two hours and 33 minutes at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, before finally prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 and setting up a showdown in the quarterfinals with Swiss great and long-time foe Roger Federer.
Federer was pushed to three sets by countryman Stanislas Wawrinka, but pulled out the win 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5 in two hours and 20 minutes.
Nadal and Federer, the defending champion at Indian Wells, have never met in the quarterfinals of a tournament, but the two players have played many memorable matches.
The 2008 Wimbledon final was their biggest battle ever, with Nadal taking the title in a five-set thriller that many consider the greatest tennis match of all time.
The 26-year-old Nadal, an 11-time Grand Slam champion, is back in action after not playing for seven months due to a knee injury.
Nadal appeared a bit sluggish early in Wednesday's match against Gulbis.
The Spaniard dropped the first set and then came battling back to take the match and get the chance to play the 31-year-old Federer, who has won 17 Grand Slam titles.
Federer and Wawrinka exchanged breaks in the first set of their match, then the world No. 2 took control and ran away with it.
Wawrinka, however, got new life in the second set, taking the tiebreaker.
Federer, who teamed up with Wawrinka to win an Olympic gold medal in doubles at the 2008 Beijing Games, proved too much for his countryman in the third set and notched the win.
The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells is one of the tennis season's nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, which rank only below the four Grand Slam tournaments and the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in terms of ranking points and prestige.