Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal needed just six weeks to renew their head-to-head rivalry following Federer’s five-set victory in the Australian Open final in late January. The two will square off once again, this time in the BNP Paribas Open Round of 16 in Indian Wells, California.
“I’m really happy that I got my energy back, because in Dubai I was actually still quite tired,” Federer said of his physical condition since Melbourne. “I feel like tomorrow if I move well I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.”
The 36th installment of the Federer-Nadal rivalry will be for a spot in the final eight in Indian Wells, with the title up for grabs following world number one Andy Murray’s early exit last week.
On Tuesday, the fifth-seeded Nadal rolled past 26th seed and fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5, the 50th time he has won a match at Indian Wells.
“[I was] very aggressive with my serve, serving well, hitting good forehands, good backhands…[I’m] very happy,” the three-time champion Nadal said. “I think I played much better today than the first day.”
In pursuit of his fifth title in the California desert, Federer knocked off 24th seeded American Steve Johnson 7-6(3), 7-6(4) on Tuesday,
Federer didn’t face a single break point against Johnson and despite the American saving four break points on his own serve, the Swiss Maestro was too tough in both tiebreakers, advancing in a little over an hour and a half to set up the Nadal clash.
World number two Novak Djokovic hung on to beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in a much-anticipated and exciting third-round match on Tuesday.
The five-time champion Djokovic converted on two of his seven break point chances in the deciding third set to hold off any thoughts of a del Potro comeback.
“There’s always a lot at stake when you play a quality player like Delpo,” said Djokovic. “He’s a big match player. I knew coming into the match it was going to be very important for me to be fired up and bring that intensity to the court in order to bring my A-game. That’s what was required for me to win that match.”
Up next for the Serb is a rematch with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who defeated Djokovic in Acapulco a couple of weeks ago. Kyrgios knocked off 18th seeded German Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in his third-round match on Tuesday.
American Jack Sock saved four match points to complete a comeback and defeat Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) in a thrilling showdown. He saved three match points while down 4-5 in the deciding set, fighting back from 0-40 down, and had to save another one while down 6-7 in the tiebreaker.
He converted on his second match point in the breaker to upend Dimitrov and advance.
Sock next takes on Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri who continued his impressive run with a win over young American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
In the biggest upset on the men’s side on Tuesday, American Donald Young ousted 14th seed Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
It wasn’t easy down the stretch for Young, who needed seven match points before finally closing out Pouille,
“It’s exciting to come through and be playing consistent, at least for the start of the year and just to beat back-to-back quality opponents, too. And then, at the end, to fight through quite a bit of nerves, that’s always great as well,” said Young. “You’ve got to keep putting yourself in those positions and, when you come through them, it gives you even more confidence. It’s what you work hard and compete for. It’s my job.
I was talking to a friend and we were talking about what else better do I have to do right now than to get better at tennis and play and enjoy it. It’s not going to be here forever. So I’m going to try and get the most out of it.”
He will try and push through into the quarterfinals against fifth-seed Kei Nishikori, who he is 0-4 against in his career.
Nishikori defeated 25th seed Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday.