An all-Spanish third round match is scheduled to take place on Sunday afternoon in Miami, as Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco cross paths for a 16th time on the professional tour. Nadal leads the head-to-head series 14-1 and will look to renew the rivalry for the first time since 2012.
The world No. 3 began his campaign in Miami with a straight sets victory over Nicolas Almagro. He needed one hour and 29 minutes to defeat his fellow countryman 6-4, 6-2 and secure his spot in the third round against another Spaniard. Given that the weather did not help, he was happy with his performance overall.
“In general, I think I played a solid match,” he said after braving extreme wind gusts. “I played well. I had good movement. I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes; that was the idea today with very tough conditions. Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round. I am happy for that.”
Nadal will come up against Fernando Verdasco, who needed three sets to get past Australian qualifier James Duckworth. He rallied from a set down to beat Duckworth 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 47 minutes. The Spaniard struck three aces, won 78% of his first service points and converted four breaks en route to victory. He will now go on to challenge the top player out of his home nation.
This marks the s16th time that Nadal and Verdasco will cross paths on the ATP World Tour, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 14-1. Their last meeting took place three years ago in Madrid, which also happened to be the only time that Verdasco was able to topple the former No. 1. That is unlikely to be the case this time around, although Nadal could be forced to contest a deciding set.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets