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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, March 14, 2022

 
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Rafael Nadal shows answers against all styles stopping Dan Evans 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Indian Wells fourth round and improve to 17-0 on the season.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Racing left, Rafael Nadal lasered a forehand pass down the line leaving Dan Evans looking like a stranded tourist seeing the last bus blow by.

The court is a freeway and streaking Nadal continues his perfect roll in paradise.

More: Magic Monfils Topples Medvedev from World No. 1 

Rallying from a break down, Nadal accelerated past Evans 7-5, 6-3 in Indian Wells to raise his 2022 record to 17-0.

Extending the best season start of his career, Nadal rolled into the Indian Wells fourth round for the 13th time.




“Of course, I’m happy to be able to keep going in the tournament,” Nadal told Andrew Krasny in his on-court interview afterward. “I think I have been playing after a couple of games better and better so I think I finished the match playing well so that’s important for the confidence.

“And of course paying a tough opponent like Dan is a good victory for me so very happy to be in the fourth round.”

It's a milestone moment for Nadal, who became the first man in history to score 400 Masters match wins.




Continuing his quest for a record-tying 37th Masters 1000 crown, Nadal will face either left-handed Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who pushed him to five sweaty sets at the Australian Open, or towering explosive force Reilly Opelka for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Mixing precise passes with his own timely net rushes, Nadal repelled a tricky Evans in one hour, 43 minutes.

That efficiency was a welcome reprieve for the Australian Open champion’s 35-year-old body that was pushed to the limit in his 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(3) comeback conquest of Sebastian Korda that drained Nadal on Saturday.

In that match, Korda controlled the center of the court for stretches and fired drives down the line off both wings.

Today, Evans, a skilled serve-and-volleyer, used his slithering slice backhand and some fine volleys to pressure Nadal early breaking in the third game and confirming for 3-1.

The man who upset Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo played arrhythmic rallies and volleyed with control leaving Nadal looking unsettled early.

The three-time champion asserted his own aggression taking the net away from Evans at times. Give Nadal a target too often and he’ll lash lacerating passing shots.

“I think the match at the beginning have been difficult—he put some pressure going to net combining his great slice backhand and the bounces have been quite low so it’s not easy with this windy conditions to put him in a tough positions,” Nadal said. “So I think it have been important a couple of passing shots I hit in some important moments then with the first set for me things start to go better."

The fourth-seeded Spaniard saved three of four break points and won eight of 12 trips to net though initially it was Evans' slick net skills that prompted the break.

Evans skidded into a fine low volley winner down the line. That smooth attack put the pressure on Nadal who knocked a forehand into net to drop serve in the third game. Evans backed up the break at 15 for 3-1.




In the eighth game, Nadal was well behind the baseline when he knifed a backhand return down the line past the serve-and-volleying Briton for break point. An Evans forehand flirted with the tape and settled on his side as Nadal snatched the beak back evening after eight games.

Resetting, Evans flashed a forehand firing through a love hold forging a 5-all deadlock

Serving on the brighter side of the court, Nadal nudged a volley off the sideline saving a break point as he held for 6-5.

Sprinting left, Nadal lasered an electric running forehand down the line and Evans followed misfiring on a forehand down the line to face triple set point.




The 29th-ranked Briton tripped his second double fault of the day off the tape as Nadal seized the 57-minute opener rallying from 2-4 down.

All that good work Evans did in set didn’t yield the ultimate result.

Then things went from bad to worse for the Briton in fluky fashion. A Nadal backhand pass down the line looked like it was going wide, but clipped the tape and redirected inside the line for a winner. A framed return from the Spaniard created an awkward smash opportunity and Evans badly bungled it ballooning his overhead long as Nadal earned his second straight break for a 2-0 second-set lead.

This match pitted two of tennis’ top volleyers. Nadal, who won the 2016 Olympic doubles gold medal partnering Marc Lopez, showed his frontcourt feel serving-and-volleying and finishing with a fine forehand volley to nullify break point in the fifth game as he held for 4-1.

Thumping his fourth ace helped Nadal seal his second love hold of the set extending to 5-2 after one hour, 36 minutes.




Torching his two-hander down the line brought the Australian Open champion triple match point.

Nadal slammed a diagonal forehand winner closing a sweet and sticky 17th straight victory.


 

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