With the epic 2017 Australian Open final still fresh in his memory, Rafael Nadal isn't yet thinking about a potential fourth round clash against Roger Federer in the ongoing BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Both Nadal and Federer reached the third round Sunday with resounding victories. While Nadal breezed past Argentina's Guido Pella in straight sets, Federer put away France's Stephane Robert in just 51 minutes.
For the first time ever, modern-day tennis greats Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic have all been drawn in the same quarter of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. This is mainly due to Nadal and Federer losing a lot of ground in ATP Tour rankings after missing most of the 2016 season with injuries. With Kei Nishikori, Juan Martin Del Potro and Nick Kyrgios also in the same quarter, a tough path awaits Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, only one of whom will make the semi-final stage.
Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal in the 4th round? Spaniard is ready...
After his 6-3, 6-2 victory over Argentina's Guido Pella, Nadal spoke to Sky Sports about the hot conditions in Indian Wells, besides a potential fourth round clash with Federer. "It was not easy playing in these conditions. It was very hot, but I'm glad how I played. First rounds are difficult, and against a left-handed player even more. I'm happy how I handled the difficult situations."
When asked to comment on the tournament draw, Nadal said: "I'd rather have preferred to be on the other side of the draw, to be honest. I try to focus on my next round, and not look beyond that. If I play against Roger in the fourth round, it will be great, but I need to win another match to do it."
On Tuesday, Nadal will resume his long standing rivalry with fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the third round. Eight years ago, the Spaniards put one a five-hour marathon during the semi-finals of the Australian Open, still regarded by many as one of the greatest matches of all time. Though Nadal leads the all-time head-to-head series at 15-3, he has lost three of his last five matches against Verdasco. Meanwhile, Federer will square off with American Steve Johnson in the third round on Tuesday. If everything goes to plan, the tennis world could be in store for a Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal contest on Thursday.