“I can’t say it was a dream because I couldn’t even dream about it three months ago, two months ago,” Nadal said. “I enjoy every moment.”
Last year, Nadal’s playing time was interrupted by COVID-19 and injuries, which created doubts about the Spanish star’s ability to recover well enough to maintain his stringent standards. But he won his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January and kept cutting.
“I am very happy to be playing tennis,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June. “Today was a little worse than the other days. It’s true that the last couple of days the feet have been bothering me a bit more.”
Nadal has already pulled out of the Miami Open, which follows Indian Wells. He wants extra time to prepare for the clay court season, which isn’t as punitive as the hard court.
Nadal recovered from a 2-4 deficit in the second set to advance 6-5. Opelka held off after three stumbles when Nadal hit a forehand to chase down the American’s shot to force the second tiebreak.
Nadal took a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak when Opelka struggled with his serve. Despite serving, the 6-foot-11 American closed in at 4-3, hitting the winners with a falling shot and a forehand.
Back in his serve, he closed the Opelka 6-5.
But Nadal closed it by dragging an Opelka off the field and the American backhand landed wide.
“It’s about trying to hit the balls so that you don’t risk too much, but at the same time you don’t let him in and shoot,” Nadal said. “You’re trying to find the right balance between those two things.”
There were no service breaks in the first group. Opelka battled the lone break point in the seventh game with a crushing forehand. Nadal retained the 6-all love, forcing the tiebreak. Opelka led 3-2 with a forehand win down the line. Nadal won the next five points, all due to Opelka’s errors, to take the set.
Nadal improved to 19-0 against American opponents since losing to John Isner at the Laver Cup 2017.
Nadal, a three-time desert champion, qualified for the quarter-finals against the wild card Nick Kyrgios. The Australian has advanced to the ATP Tour quarter-finals since winning Washington in 2019 after the 10th seed Yannick Sener Withdrew due to illness.
“I have more confidence in my shot, so when the time comes, I feel like I can trust what I want to do, trust my game,” said Fritz, who reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells last year.
Grigor Dimitrov The Bulgarian beat Isner 6-3, 7-6 (6), and the next plays in seventh place Andrey Rublevwho defeated Hubert Hurkacz, 7-6 (5), 6-4. Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz beats Gael Moonves, 7-5 6-1. Quarter-finals will be played against the defending champion Cameron Norriewho defeated Jenson Brosby6-2, 6-4.
In Women’s Play No. 3 Iga Sweatk Wave Madison Keys 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour to reach the semi-finals. Simona Halep I led 6-1, 6-1 Petra Martic. Halep won the Indian Wells in 2015 for her biggest hard court title to date.
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