With Gael Monfils seeing off Daniil Medvedev on Monday, Rafael Nadal is now the heavy favourite to make the final at Indian Wells from the top half of the draw. The No. 4 seed will play Reilly Opelka for a spot in the quarters-final with a potential thriller with Nick Kyrgios on the cards should he advance.
Opelka achieved his best performance ever at a Masters 1000 in the USA thanks to an impressive win against Denis Shapovalov 6-7 6-4 6-4. A strong serving performance formed the basis for the win with Opelka hitting 11 aces and saving all four break points he faced.
Nadal had a much easier time against Daniel Evans than in his previous match, beating the Brit in straights 7-5 6-3. He did start slowly though, falling 2-4 behind before taking control with a run of eight games in nine from that stage. “The match didn’t start the way that I wanted,” Nadal said, “but I was able to hit a couple of good passing shots in some key moments, and then things started to build a bit better.”
While Nadal has extended his Masters 1000 record in terms of matches won to 400, he is still one title behind Novak Djokovic. Beating Opelka would move him one step closer to tying that but it won’t be easy against the American. The surface will suit the Amercan more than the one in their only meeting to date, where Nadal won a tight two setter in Rome. His record against the big servers has generally been good though with them eventually failing to deal with the top spin and serving lights out all match often being unsustainable.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets