By Mark Lamport-Stokes
INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Fifth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer was ousted from the Indian Wells ATP tournament on Tuesday as Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer both moved into the fourth round.
Ferrer was upset 6-4 6-3 by Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, Nadal swept past fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-1 6-4 and Federer survived an early storm from Milos Raonic before completing a 6-7 6-2 6-4 victory.
A winner of three titles this year, Ferrer had lost only once in 20 ATP matches this season before struggling badly on his second serve as he was outplayed by the 51st-ranked Istomin.
"I didn't play a good match even though I don't want to take credit from him," the Spaniard Tweeted in his native language. "He was the better player today and played very well, a fair winner."
Claycourt specialist Ferrer, a former world number four, had won titles in Auckland, Buenos Aires and Acapulco this year.
Second seed Nadal, Indian Wells champion in 2007 and 2009, dominated Granollers with his superb baseline game but lost a bit of momentum in the second set before triumphing in one hour, 25 minutes with an ace on his fifth match point.
"I played well. It was a comfortable first set," Nadal said. "I didn't play my best in the second. I had a few mistakes, especially for the backhand, and then I was in a little bit trouble. But I am happy that I finished the match well."
Federer was stunned by Raonic's power serving in the opening set but delivered a master class in the next two before wrapping up the win in just over two hours when the towering Canadian netted a forehand.
The Swiss, who had never previously played the 21-year-old, will next face Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, who benefited from a walkover when Russian Nikolay Davydenko withdrew due to illness.
"I was impressed (by Raonic)," triple champion Federer said. "He played great and made it hard for me by winning that first set tiebreaker.
"He kept himself in the match till the very end, and obviously put a lot of pressure on me. I think the longer I stayed out there the better I started feeling."
Big-serving Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina survived a shaky second set to beat Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco 6-2 7-6 in the first match of the day on the stadium court.
Del Potro, who won his first grand slam title at the 2009 U.S. Open, breezed through his opening set in 39 minutes before struggling against his opponent's fluent ground strokes.
The six-foot six-inch (1.98m) Argentine saved four set points on his own serve in a marathon 10th game, and two more in the tiebreak, before sealing victory when a Verdasco backhand flew long.
Del Potro clenched his fists in delight before making a sign of the cross on his chest and looking skywards in relief as the stadium court crowd erupted in applause.
"I am still very nervous from that moment when Fernando played much better than me in the second set," the 23-year-old said. "Verdasco is a really difficult opponent, especially in the early rounds of the big tournaments.
"He's very, very tough and very dangerous. Sometimes you are lucky to win these kinds of matches."
Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France battled back to beat Czech Radek Stepanek 6-7 6-3 6-2 while Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov scraped past Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 5-7 6-4.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue and Greg Stutchbury)