World No. 1 Rafael Nadal improved to 7-0 career against Czech Radek Stepanek on Saturday night in Indian Wells, but it was anything but easy.
After dropping the first set against the all-court Stepanek, Nadal came back to ground out a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 win.
“With my serve I was doing nothing,” Nadal said. “When that happens, the opponent is able to play more aggressive, play more confident and in the end, eight double faults, I give him an opportunity to win a lot of free points. I was a little bit scared for the back. I am not feeling 100 percent confident with my serve. But probably that match is going to help me understand that I can start to serve normal again.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 3 Stan Wawrinka defeating “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-5; No. 5 Andy Murray surviving upset specialist Lukas Rosol 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; No. 7 Roger Federer beating French qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5); and No. 10 Milos Raonic edging Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(2).
“I was a little bit scared the way I was going to come back, the way I was going to play, but after five, six days on the practice court, I was feeling really good,” Wawrinka said. “I’m really happy with my level. I really think I’m playing great tennis.”
On the upset tip Saturday, Alejandro Falla ousted Jerzy Janowicz 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5); and Jiri Vesely showed the exit to No. 32 Pablo Andujar 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.
In other notable results No. 17 Kevin Anderson dismissed former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(5), 6-4; No. 13 Fabio Fognini beat back American Ryan Harrison 5-7, 6-1, 6-4; and No. 29 Andrea Seppi escaped American Sam Querrey 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.
In women’s second-round play on Saturday, five seeds were shown the door in upsets in the desert.
Spaniard Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor came from a set down to beat No. 5 Angelique Kerber 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4; Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi defeating No. 25 Sorana Cirstea 7-6(3), 6-3; Czech Karolina Pliskova ousting No. 28 Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 6-2; Russian Alisa Kleybanova clubbing No. 32 Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-2; and Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, who roughly a month ago was playing U.S. ITF events, outlasted No. 15 Sabine Lisicki 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(5).
In other Top 10 action, players advancing were No. 1 Na Li over Chinese compatriot Jie Zheng 6-1, 7-5; No. 4 Maria Sharapova out-hitting German Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges 6-1, 6-4; and No. 8 Petra Kvitova rolling past American wildcard Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-3.
“The first matches are always tricky, especially having not played in a few weeks, indoor or outdoor,” said Sharapova after recording no aces to seven double faults. “[Goerges is] also a tricky opponent, and she’s capable of playing good tennis. She hasn’t been as consistent with her results as she probably would have liked to be recently, but she’s had her results and she’s beaten top players before, so it’s never easy facing her in your first match.”
Seeds escaping on Saturday were No. 11 Ana Ivanovic edging the Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 7-6 in the third, No. 20 Flavia Pennetta stopping a comeback from American wildcard Taylor Townsend in three; and No. 23 Ekaterina Makarova coming from a set down to beat Romania’s Monica Niculescu.
In the last night match, American Sloane Stephens defeated Croat Ajla Tomljanovic.
Highlights to look for on Sunday in Indian Wells include (6) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, (2) Novak Djokovic vs. Victor Hanescu, (7) Jelena Jankovic vs. (31) Magdalena Rybarikova, (6) Simona Halep vs. (26) Lucie Safarova, Nikolay Davydenko vs. (12) John Isner, German riser Annika Beck vs. (2) Agnieszka Radwanska, (18) Eugenie Bouchard vs. (9) Sara Errani, and an all-American in Varvara Lepchenko vs. Lauren Davis.
SUNDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
ATP – R Bautista Agut (ESP) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
WTA – [Q] Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs  C Wozniacki (DEN)
ATP –  J Del Potro (ARG) vs F Lopez (ESP)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – V Hanescu (ROU) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
Not Before 8:30 pm
WTA –  J Jankovic (SRB) vs  M Rybarikova (SVK)
STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am
WTA –  S Halep (ROU) vs  L Safarova (CZE)
ATP – N Davydenko (RUS) vs  J Isner (USA)
ATP –  R Gasquet (FRA) vs T Gabashvili (RUS)
WTA – A Beck (GER) vs  A Radwanska (POL)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP –  G Dimitrov (BUL) vs R Haase (NED)
ATP – J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs J Chardy (FRA) / G Simon (FRA)
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