Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Rafael Nadal lives to play another day, when he will face Novak Djokovic

It was clear from start that the first men's quarterfinal Friday at the BNP Paribas Open would be over in straight sets.

Grunting, lunging, looking uncomfortable in the broiling midday sun at Indian Wells, one player was down a break after the fourth game and faced a 3-1 deficit and two break points in the fifth game. The rout was on.

And so it turned out, though not in the way it began.

Rafael Nadal, who seemed to be coming undone against Kei Nishikori, used his guts and guile to dodge defeat yet again. Nadal, who had saved a match point in the fourth round, bloomed again in the desert heat by holding serve in that game and turning the match around. He broke Nishikori...