Following their fantastic encounter in the final of the Rio Open last month, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Alexandr Dolgopolov with cross paths once again on the professional tour in what is scheduled to be their sixth meeting to date. The Nadal vs Dolgopolov head-to-head stands at 5-0.
Indian Wells defending champion Rafael Nadal contained a potentially massive upset in his opening match at the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, rallying for a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over Czech Radek Stepanek on Saturday night. Nadal lead with a break in the third set, yet relinquished it early on and was forced to come up with a strong hold in the sixth game, battling down from triple break point at 0-40. He would go on to earn the deciding break leading 6-5 to secure the victory.
“It’s true that with love/40, I was very close to losing, to being out, but I think I did two good serves and then I played a great point,” said Nadal. “Tough one. Anything can happen, but in the end I played well. After that, I think I played better.
“I’m happy to be through, because the start of the match, even if I felt at the beginning I didn’t play that bad, it was very quick 4-1 [for Stepanek], and I felt I was not playing that bad.”
World No. 31 Alexandr Dolgopolov reached the third round in Indian Wells with a straight sets win over Tim Symzeck. The Ukrainian No. 1 won the opening set tiebreak and needed only one break in the second set to settle the match and win 7-6(3), 6-4. Dolgopolov is in fantastic form this season, having reached the final of the inaugural Rio Open, where he lost to his next opponent at the California Desert – Rafael Nadal. He would reach the semi-finals of the Mexican Open the following week before losing to Kevin Anderson.
This marks the sixth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Nadal leading the series with a perfect 5-0 score. The first and last wins came on clay, while the remaining three took place on hard courts. They recently met in the final of the inaugural Rio Open, which saw Dolgopolov’s most competitive match against the Spaniard. While this may be the case, Dolgopolov is not as capable on hard courts and will likely not put up the same fight here.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets