Rafael Nadal beats big-serving Opelka, to meet Kyrgios in quarter-finals at Indian Wells
Indian Wells (USA) : Rafael Nadal survived a bombardment of big serves by Reilly Opelka at the BNP Paribas Open as he extended his perfect start to the ATP Tour season to 18-0.With his back against the wall, the Spaniard blunted 6 feet 11 inch Opelka’s big-hitting game with heavy topspin as he demonstrated an abundance of agility and patience, overcoming the American 7-6(3), 7-6(5) to book his place in the quarter-finals of the ATP Masters event.Nadal, who is enjoying a career-best start to a year, stood deep behind the baseline on Opelka’s serve, which enabled him to put returns back into court with ferocious depth and power, according to a report on the ATP Tour website.The 35-year-old soaked up Opelka’s brand of big-serve tennis and rallied from a break down in the second set to eventually advance after two hours and 11 minutes.The World No. 4 is the highest-ranked player left in the draw at the ATP Masters 1000 event and is aiming to capture his fourth tour-level title of a remarkable 2022 season this week.Nadal has made history on multiple occasions this year, having clinched a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open, before he earned his 400th Masters 1000 win over Daniel Evans in the third round in Indian Wells.
Nadal is a three-time champion in the California desert (2007, 09, 13) and will continue his title pursuit when he plays Nick Kyrgios in the last eight. The Australian moved through after Italian Jannik Sinner was forced to withdraw from their match due to illness.In a tight first set, Nadal had to wait for his opportunities, with Opelka saving the only break point of the set at 3-4, 30/40 as they moved to a tie-break. From 3/3, it was Nadal who found the greater consistency from the baseline, pulling Opelka from side to side as he moved ahead.The second set saw Opelka continue to crush forehands and blast backhands and he capitalised on two double faults from Nadal to break in the fifth game. The American forced Nadal against the back wall on Stadium 1 at times and was presented with an opportunity to move 5-2 ahead. However, Nadal saved the breakpoint with a powerful serve, before he demonstrated his trademark fighting spirit, battling back to 4-4.After Opelka hung onto his serve at 5-6, another tie-break was left to determine the set. Nadal once again made no mistake, ruthlessly raising his game to seal the victory.Opelka played aggressively against Nadal but was unable to match the fourth seed’s intensity in the crucial moments. The World No. 17, who advanced to the final in Toronto last season, was aiming to reach his fourth Masters 1000 quarter-final.