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Rafael Nadal stays perfect in 2022, advances to quarterfinals at Indian Wells

Mar 16, 2022; Indian Wells, CA, USA;  Rafael Nadal (ESP) questions a line call during his fourth round match against Reilly Opelka (USA) in the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Nadal improved to 18-0 this season by defeating Reilly Opelka 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif., On Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic is the only player since 1990 to get off to better starts. Djokovic went 26-0 to begin 2020 and 41-0 to open 2011.

“I think I played my best match of the tournament so far today,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “I am very pleased with how I was able to win the match, with two difficult tiebreaks. This victory means a lot to me.”

Nadal rallied from a 2-4 deficit in the second set to lead 6-5. Opelka held serve, but Nadal took a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker and closed out the match when the 6-foot-11 American was wide with a backhand. Nadal is 19-0 against U.S.-born opponents since losing to John Isner at the 2017 Laver Cup.

There were no service breaks in the first set. Opelka led 3-2 in the tiebreaker before Nadal won the next five points, all on errors by Opelka, to take the set.

Nadal, a three-time winner of this event, advanced to the quarterfinals against wild-card Nick Kyrgios from Australia, who advanced to his first ATP Tour quarterfinal since 2019 after 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner withdrew because of illness.

“Nick is playing great,” Nadal said. “He is one of the toughest opponents on tour. Everyone knows how good he is when he is motivated. It is going to be a good test for me and good challenge.”

Another American, Taylor Fritz, fired 14 aces to defeat Alex de Minaur, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) and will play Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the quarterfinals. Kecmanovic overcame 14 aces by No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini in a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 victory.

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria advanced by defeating Isner, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

–Field Level Media