Following his quick decimation of Australian No.1 Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday night, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal is still on track to win his first ever Sony Open Tennis title. His next obstacle will be world No. 57 Denis Istomin, with the Nadal vs Istomin Head to Head poised at 3-0. They have not crossed paths on the ATP Tour since 2012.
Nadal’s 6-1, 6-3 win over Hewitt was as quick and one-sided a contest as the scoreline shows. The Spaniard broke in the opening game of the match and then capitalized on two more breaks of serve to win the contest in 69 minutes, extending his streak against Hewitt to six consecutive matches. It was Nadal’s first match since his surprising third round upset loss to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round at Indian Wells. Having failed to defend his title in California, Nadal will be looking to rebound by winning the Miami title – one of the few Masters 1000 titles that has evaded Nadal throughout his career.
World No. 57 Denis Istomin has already been through a pair of gruelling encounters in his first two matches in Miami, defeating Nicholas Mahut 7-6, 7-6 in his opener, while needing three sets to overcome Dmitry Tursunov on Saturday afternoon. Now 8-6 overall this season, Istomin will be looking for his first win this season over a Top 5 opponent, having gone 0-2 against them since the start of 2014 (both losses to Djokovic).
This marks the fourth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Nadal holding an undefeated 3-0 record in the series. They have met once on all three main surfaces, with their 2010 US Open encounter on hard court being the most competitive. While this has the potential of being relatively competitive, Istomin has never managed a set against the world No. 1 and it is unlikely he will manage to achieve that on Monday.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets