A three-time Indian Wells champion Rafael Nadal secured his 12th quarter-final in the desert following a hard-fought 7-6, 7-6 triumph over Reilly Opelka in two hours and 11 minutes. Nadal trailed on Stadium 1 in the second set before erasing the deficit and avoiding spending more time on the court.
Thus, Rafa remained perfect in 2022 and became the second player since 1990 after Novak Djokovic with an 18-0 start to the year. The Spaniard collected his 98th Masters 1000 quarter-final, reaching at least one in 18 consecutive seasons!
Opelka did his best to follow the rival’s pace, serving at 76% and fending off four of five break points. The American led 4-2 in the second set before the Spaniard pulled the break back. Nadal claimed a single mini-break in the tie break to emerge at the top and set the quarter-final clash against Nick Kyrgios.
Rafa had 20 winners and 15 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and outplaying Reilly in the more extended exchanges to cross the finish line first.
Rafael Nadal defeated Reilly Opelka in two tie breaks in Indian Wells.
There were no chances for the returners in the opening six games after they won only five points.
The rivals reached 3-3 in 20 minutes, and Nadal created the first break chance in the seventh game after a loose forehand from his opponent. Opelka fended it off with a smash winner at the net after a 15-stroke exchange and fired a forehand winner for 4-3.
Both players produced quick holds in the rest of the set to reach a tie break after 46 minutes. Opelka placed a forehand winner for a 3-2 advantage before netting an easy backhand. Rafa grabbed a mini-break at 4-3 following a massive forehand error from his rival and forged a 6-3 lead after another loose stroke from Reilly.
The American placed a backhand beyond the baseline in the tenth point to hand the opening set to the Spaniard after 54 minutes. Opelka fended off a break chance in the second set’s fourth game and broke in the next one after Nadal’s poor forehand.
The American saved a break point in game six with a booming serve and placed another to open a 4-2 gap. Struggling in those moments, Rafa sent a forehand wide in the seventh game to face break chances. He erased three with service winners and gained a boost.
Reilly squandered a game point in game eight and sprayed a backhand error to lose serve and bring Rafa back to 4-4. Both players served well in the rest of the set to introduce the second tie break. Nadal grabbed a mini-break in the third point for 2-1 and earned three match points at 6-3 with unreturned serves.
Opelka saved two with unreturned serves before Nadal seized the third for a place in the quarter-final, his 19th in a row at the Masters 1000 level since 2017!
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