Alexandr Dolgopolov handed world No. 1 Rafael Nadal just his second loss this season, when he defeated the Spaniard 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open. The win was his first over the top-ranked Nadal, and his second Top-5 victory this season, having toppled David Ferrer in the semi-finals in Rio. Dolgo now faces Fognini, with the Head to Head standing at 3-0.
“I feel great, I mean, as after every win, of course. This one was bigger and I beat the defending champion, No. 1 in the world.” Dolgopolov said after the match. “I guess I just need to enjoy this evening and forget about it tomorrow and try to compete the rest of the tournament. I’m still in. That’s great, and I’m really happy I could manage to win today.”
The Ukrainian played another tight match-up against Nadal at the Rio Open finals a couple of weeks back, with Nadal eventually besting Dolgopolov to win the title. When asked if he learnt something from that match, he admit that he did not consider it a helpful lesson.
“I wouldn’t say Rio helped me much today. I think I played much better today. It was hard court. I returned well and I had a day to practice with a lefty, so there was a lot of differences. But I don’t think that impacted our match or helped me today to win.”
Dolgopolov now meet top Italian Fabio Fognini in a rematch of their Rio quarter-final contest. It will be the Ukrainian’s second Round of 16 appearance in Indian Wells in four trips to the main draw.
13th seed Fabio Fognini dazzled the crowd in attendance with his flamboyant displays against France’s Gael Monfils, defeating his fellow performer 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. The Italian saved two match points in the process, denying Monfils a spot in the fourth round of the tournament.
Dolgopolov leads the official head-to-head series 3-0, having only lost to Fognini in a Challengers event in 2007. Their most recent encounter was in the quarter-finals in Rio, which Dolgopolov won in rapid fashion 6-1, 6-1. The closest of their three encounters was their hard court meeting, yet Fognini was still unable to snatch a set from the Ukrainian. This will likely be the case once again in their upcoming match.
Prediction: Alexandr Dolgopolov in Straight Sets