Rafael Nadal returns to action on Monday as he takes on Argentinian Leonardo Mayer in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
The Spanish fifth seed made a winning return to hard-court action on Saturday as he beat young American Ryan Harrison 7-6(3), 6-2. The match was Nadal’s first on the surface for almost a year having recently returned to the tour from a knee injury.
Nadal chose to make his comeback on clay to lessen the demand on his knee and won in both Acapulco and Sao Paulo after reaching the final in Vina del Mar, Chile. It was in the quarterfinals in Acapulco two weeks ago that Nadal had his most recent meeting with Mayer, coming out on top in straight sets.
The 26-year-old was also victorious the only other time the pair clashed, at Indian Wells last year en route to a seventh straight appearance in at least the semifinals stage of the tournament.
In contrast, his opponent is paying in the third round of a Masters 1000 event for the first time, courtesy of an impressive win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the last round.
Nadal appeared to get better as the match wore on against Harrison and will expect to continue his improvement with what should be a straightforward victory over Mayer.
In the last match of the day session, Nadal’s old nemesis Roger Federer will take to the court for his third-round match against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig. Federer, the second seed, made an impressive debut in this year’s tournament as he dismantled Denis Istomin in less than an hour. Particularly noteworthy was Federer’s serving performance that saw him drop just four points, all in the first set.
Surprisingly, Federer and 28-year-old Dodig have never met, but it would be a significant surprise were the four-time winner at Indian Wells to be unduly tested.
Beginning the evening session is women’s top seed Victoria Azarenka. Having beaten Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in the second round, Azarenka will now face Kirsten Flipkens. The Belgian is currently at a career high 31 in the rankings having reached the fourth round at the Australian Open earlier this year. Her game is unlikely to pose too many problems for Azarenka, however, and the Belarusian was a comfortable winner in the pair’s only previous meeting at the US Open last year.
Also in action in the women’s draw on Monday will be fourth seed Angelique Kerber, against Yanina Wickmayer, while eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki faces Elena Vesnina.
There could well be a late finish on Tuesday, with veteran Australian Lleyton Hewitt going up against Swiss 18th-seed Stanislas Wawrinka. Both the pair’s previous meetings have gone the distance.
Where to watch: Monday’s action at Indian Wells will get underway at 2 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Tennis Channel, with a live stream available on ESPN3.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.