Indian Wells: Rafael Nadal takes 'positive step' as Roger Federer also progresses
Spanish three-time champion was too strong for Jared Donaldson, while Federer was forced to fight back in the second set against Peter Gojowczyk
World No 2 Rafael Nadal raced into the third round of the ATP Indian Wells Masters as Roger Federer made a less speedy but still successful start to his quest for a sixth title on Sunday.
Nadal, a three-time Indian Wells winner, needed just 72 minutes to ease past Jared Donaldson 6-1, 6-1.
Federer, who is seeking to break out of a tie with top seed Novak Djokovic for most titles in the California desert, looked set for a similarly easy time of it, but had to overcome a second-set challenge from German Peter Gojowczyk in a 6-1, 7-5 win.
Fourth-seeded Federer said he was relieved not to go to a second-set tiebreaker after falling behind 3-1 to the free-swinging German, who is ranked 85th in the world.
The Swiss pulled it back to 4-4 and broke Gojowczyk for a 6-5 lead, with the German double-faulting on break point to give Federer a chance to serve it out.
"I struggled a little bit with my serving in that second set and that gave him chances. Because he was serving better he started to swing more freely and then it was tough," Federer said. "I'm really happy I found a way in that second set."
Federer will face in the third round fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, after the three-time grand slam champion ground out a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 win over 29th-seeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
Nadal takes 'positive step'
Nadal, playing his third tournament of a year that started with a crushing loss to Djokovic in the Australian Open final and included an early exit in Acapulco, converted five of his six break chances against Donaldson and never faced a break point himself.
He next faces Diego Schwartzman, who beat Spain's Roberto Carbralles 6-3, 6-1. Nadal is 6-0 against the Argentine.
"Today was a very positive step for me, and next one is going to be against a player that we know each other very well, we practiced a lot of times, and we played some tough matches," Nadal said. "[He is] one of the best talents of the sport today so it's going to be a tough one against Diego."
In other early matches, sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan survived a scare in a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 victory over France's Adrian Mannarino.
Mannarino, ranked 52nd in the world, served for the match at 6-5 in the third. He couldn't muster a match point and double-faulted on break point, which offered enough of a window for Nishikori.
"I think in the tiebreak I played the best tennis of the match, I was really focused," said Nishikori, who opened 2019 with a title in Brisbane and then reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Nishikori next faces 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who defeated France's Lucas Pouille 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Eighth-seeded American John Isner routed Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin 6-0, 6-2. He will play Guido Pella, who won his first title at Sao Paulo last week. Pella ended the hopes of another Aussie qualifier, Alex Bolt, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3.
Tenth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic downed Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 to book a meeting with 19-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the 24th seed who beat American Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-4.
Updated: March 11, 2019 10:51 AM