INDIAN WELLS — Rafael Nadal came back to win the final five games and beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday in an intense, crowd-pleasing rematch of their Australian Open semifinal. Nadal, the defending Indian Wells champion, avenged his lopsided loss in Melbourne with a scrappy 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3) 7-5 victory in the fourth round of the Pacific Life Open.
James Blake and Mardy Fish, the two U.S. players remaining in the men's competition, also advanced to the quarterfinals. Blake took a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Richard Gasquet, and Fish beat two-time Indian Wells champion Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (4). In a night match, Maria Sharapova ran her 2008 record to 18-0 with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over defending champion Daniela Hantuchova.
After Tsonga, a hard-hitting Frenchman, went up 5-2 in the third set, Nadal held serve the rest of the way and broke Tsonga's serve in the ninth and 11th games to take a 6-5 lead. With the crowd beginning to cheer even as he set up for the shot, the Spaniard capped the match by slamming an overhead past Tsonga.
Tsonga, 22, a Frenchman who since 2006 has vaulted from No. 212 in the rankings to No. 17, upset No. 2 Nadal 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the Australian Open semis before losing to Novak Djokovic.
Never miss a local story.
Terrelle Pryor, the highly touted western Pennsylvania quarterback considered by many scouts to be the top-rated unsigned high school recruit in the country, announced that he'll play for Ohio State. The 6-foot-6-inch Pryor — flanked by his parents, two younger siblings and some of his coaches — made the announcement on the auditorium stage at Jeannette Senior High near Pittsburgh.
Tennessee center Kevin Mawae was elected president of the NFL Players Association on the final day of a four-day meeting in Hawaii. The 14-year veteran replaces Troy Vincent.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs title at the World Figure Skating Championships in Goteborg, Sweden. They took advantage of their hugely difficult routine to beat China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao by more than five points.
Earlier, two-time European champion Carolina Kostner edged reigning world silver medalist Mao Asada by a mere .18 of a point to win the short program.
Andre Ward (14-0, 9 KOs), the 2004 Olympian who won the United States' only gold medal in Athens, meets former super-middleweight title contender Rubin Williams (29-3-1, 16 KOs) tonight at the Shark Tank in San Jose.
Floyd Landis began the final step in his appeals process in the first of a five-day hearing in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Landis hopes CAS will restore the 2006 Tour de France title that was stripped after an arbitration hearing last year in which arbitrators ruled he used performance-enhancing drugs during his victory. A former Landis assistant estimated the appeals process was costing the cyclist about $2 million.
Bode Miller fans hoping to see him at the U.S. Alpine Championships this weekend in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, are out of luck — his agent says Miller will be relaxing in a sunny place after a tough, seven-month season. The other U.S. overall World Cup champ, Lindsey Vonn, will compete.
Track and Field
Olympic heptathlon champ Carolina Kluft will drop her signature event and compete in the long jump and triple jump at the Beijing Games.
BMW Oracle Racing, the American syndicate set to challenge Alinghi in the 2009 America's Cup, will be co-skippered by three-time Cup winner Russell Coutts.