Nadal Tested; Djokovic, Isner on Sunday at Indian Wells
by Staff | March 9th, 2014, 2:34 am

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.


STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
ATP – R Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [4] T Berdych (CZE)
WTA – [Q] Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [10] C Wozniacki (DEN)
ATP – [6] J Del Potro (ARG) vs F Lopez (ESP)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs [9] J Tsonga (FRA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – V Hanescu (ROU) vs [2] N Djokovic (SRB)

Not Before 8:30 pm
WTA – [7] J Jankovic (SRB) vs [31] M Rybarikova (SVK)

STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am
WTA – [6] S Halep (ROU) vs [26] L Safarova (CZE)
ATP – N Davydenko (RUS) vs [12] J Isner (USA)
ATP – [8] R Gasquet (FRA) vs T Gabashvili (RUS)
WTA – A Beck (GER) vs [2] A Radwanska (POL)

Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – [15] 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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73 Comments for Nadal Tested; Djokovic, Isner on Sunday at Indian Wells

metan Says:

It was realy scared , Stepanek played great at first set. He dictated the match right from begining. It was sooo closed match against old player.

Tough job ahead for Rafa. Good luck for next round.
Vamos RAFA.

Giles Says:

Stepy is a wily old bird.
Vamos Champ!
Stay healthy!

van orten Says:

so he won rio with no serve because he was scared of the back.. what a warrior

Nirmal Kumar Says:

It’s understood Rafa is going to struggle early, since he has no HC practice recently. With the way he picked up, thought he would steamroll in the 3rd. Did not watch the set, so not sure if Rafa level dropped or Steps picked up.

Did not get to see Roger’s match. Looks like he is having hiccups in the closing stages again. He had trouble playing well in the later part of second set in his doubles match.

madmax Says:

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.

Those of you who placed your best that Rafa wouldn’t complain about injury, well, you lost. Played a first match against a 35 year old “has been”, ST and Giles, the marriage of the trolls, very own words.

Within one match, he is “not feeling confident with his serve”, “a little scared of his back”.

Come on Rafa, you are world number 1. Start acting like it and stop with the excuses! It just gets worse!

I have never read so many injury excuses from a world number 1.

Just get on with it and stop complaining!

chico Says:

Interesting tourney.. Before the draw I could have gone something like this:

Wawa, rested, confindence high
Djoker, Boris effect(?)
Berdych, playing good but.. old story
Nadal/Federer/Murray back?/age/back? respectively
(?)JmDP/Tsonga/Younger guns

And now a bone for the ten-rex to chew up:
I’d go for Murray taking out Rafa if Rafa gets there, Wawa first taking out Fed, then Murray before a tough win against Djoker in the Final.

Nishikori-Federer and Berdych-Dimitrov should be fun, a prospectous Tsonga-JMdP normally too but now they are almost dark horses in my book.

Great week ahead in any case :)!!

Giles Says:

Larry fist pumping with 2 fists when Rafa survived break points. Attaboy Larry.

Giles Says:

van orten. Believe it or not even warriors have feelings!

metan Says:

Rafa shots at the end of the match was AWESOME. 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

pigoonse Says:

Seems a pretty good assessment so far @ chico.
Wawrinka and Murray appear the most mentally and physically able of the top ten walking wounded and shaky, so far. It is normal to see a weak set from Murray and Stan managed his 1st match well.

I want to see how Djokovic does in his singles match – but so far, the Djokovic + Becker choice gets the gong.

Nishikori can take out Federer in straights (if Federror shows up again like he did with PHM) and Kei won’t have trouble getting that job done.
It is reasonable to anticipate a good match between Berdych and Dimitrov.

We shall see today how fit the remaining top seeds are. A dark horse winner might be getting inspired after watching Nadal and Federer.

metan Says:

I will root for Kei and i believe he can take out Haas. This guy game is beautiful and he has good attitude. Under Michael Chang , it seems to me that he plays better. Heard that he had hip problem at his previous tour. Hope it is well now . Good luck KEI!

Giles Says:

Difficult first round for Rafa. Hope the next match will be easier.

Brando Says:

Yeah very tricky first round match: wily, smart opponent who gives you no rhythm is always a tough one first up. Not surprised Rafa is not quite feeling confident about going all out on serve: that takes time after a back spasm. Next opponent is also another tricky, no real rhythm type player: Dolgopolov.

James Says:

Nadal was bad. His serve saved him in the deciding set when it mattered the most. He struggled to hit deep consistently. His shots lacked depth and power. He looked very beatable. I’m glad it wasn’t Djokovic or Murray across the net against this Nadal.

He clearly isn’t 100% yet. I expect him to raise his level in next match though. It was funny to see Larry root for Rafa like a fanboy LoL
and the crowd was so pro Nadal like he needed it. Well, he probably needed it this time.

Earlier in the day, Roger also looked beatable in 2nd set. Mathieu actually was playing better than Roger from the baseline. But Roger was very clutch in the big points and Mathieu choked when it mattered the most. The way he was playing I thought Mathieu could be a top player. Then I saw he didn’t have that mental strength required to be a top 10 player.
The same with Stepanek. Radek choked his last service game to hand Nadal the opportunity to close the match.

James Says:

Haas vs Nishikori will be interesting. Kei’s improved as a player and has talked of winning big titles. He cannot win a big title if he can’t beat someone like Haas.

Haas is a very good player though and might even be the favourite in this match for most fans.
Still, I expect a Nishikori win.

I want to see another Federer-Nishikori match.

James Says:

Oh and Rafa was quick between points. He was rushing like a mad man with his pre serve rituals.

Gordon Says:

Both Rafa and Fed looked sloppy but that’s why you seed tournaments, so the greats can work out the kinks against lower ranked players. The best will find a way to win, sometimes doing so in an ugly fashion.

But Rafa must be concerned to bring up his back so early in the tournament. Classic Rafa; now if he loses in the final to Djokovic he’ll reference the back and that will be the reason he lost. It will never be because Djokovic “he played unbelievable, no?” although he will heap tons of praise on his opponent before bringing up the dartboard injury.

And his legions will recall this press conference and say “oh that’s right – his back! What a warrior Rafa is. No way Nole – or anyone – should ever beat him ever.


metan Says:

We are still at first round and not final. Are you live in this present moment or in the future now???? Hmmmm.

metan Says:

James at 8.41.LOL
Was he afraid to get warning so he was so quick?😜😜

JF Says:

Gordon, so this year’s Indian Wells finals are going to be Novak and Rafa ?
Speaking of warriors – for anyone who follows soccer, a true warrior in Carles Puyols(Barcalona player) – has announced retirement at the end of the season. Sad times for all fans who know what he is about.

Giles Says:

James. Apparently Stepy received a TVW!! Lol

Giles Says:

JAmes. Larry is a Rafa fanboy. I remember reading a long while ago someone referring to Rafa as Larry’s adopted son. Rafa is a guest in Larry’s home during the IW tourneys. Has been for many years.

pigoonse Says:

Larry Ellison’s daughter is part of the story. It is rumored that she requests Rafa stay at their house.

the DA Says:

Haas is Larry’s guest this year – he praised it as “heaven on earth” in his presser. There might be enough room for more than one guest.
I saw him at the Haas & Murray matches but not at Federer’s. Maybe he stepped out for an early dinner.

Giles Says:

Larry and Rafa are great friends. They practice together, play golf and socialise. Geez he even attends all Rafa’s matches and cheers and fist pumps and they have a great deal of respect for one another. I remember last year he chose to practice with Rafa at his home instead of attending one of Joker’s matches. A true fanboy

A Tango Lad Says:

I predict Djokovic will win this year. I’ve a hunch his better form and consistency will return with Vajda back in his corner and Becker out of the way.

Nadal needs a sports psychologist.

Roger should make it to the final.

Giles Says:

^^^ Why does Rafa need a sports psychologist?

andrea Says:

i watched the fed match live and he was definitely a bit sloppy…not great body language either. but he’s had a history now of not being able to close out when he needs to so that probably is an irritant.

that torro-flor girl has a mean forehand – if she can keep it together mentally in other tough matches, she should be one to watch. kerber faded at the end of that match.

madmax Says:

Haas is almost 36 years old.


Bring on Haas!

Sean Randall Says:

Rafa better than Roger, is your goal to turn every thread into a Federer-Nadal war? Or do you have anything intelligent to add?

pigoonse Says:

Tennis today:

Berdych/Bautista-Agut and Cillic/ Sao Paulo finalist, Paulo Lorenzi matches will start in less than 30 minutes as does Simona Halep/Lucie Safarova.

At noon PDT is the Vasek Pospisil/ Michhail Kukushkin match and I hope they have cameras on that court. Also Eugenie Bouchard will face Sara Errani later this afternoon. Agnieszka Radwanska is also playing.

Gilles Simon is up against new kid, Dominik Thiem. Can the “Dominator” win a second ATP level Masters 1000 match?

It’s Tennis all day Sunday. Good luck!

Slice Tennis Says:

“is your goal to turn every thread into a Federer-Nadal war?”

I guess you should be happy about that.
You were initiating and encouraging such wars just to get more hits with some meaningless articles.

sheila Says:

@rafa better than roger, what federer should go out with a defeatist attitude towards nadal before leaving the lockerroom. true nadal has a winning record against federer, but please, because federer “thinks” he might have a chance at winning nadal, that is such a bad thing. maybe federer should say what ferrer says when playing nadal: ‘i don’t have a chance of winning”. federer is a professional athlete & he does have to think he has a chance at winning his opponent.

the DA Says:

Del Potro pulls out of IW due to his wrist. This doesn’t look good. Hope he finally gets this seen to.

To be honest I’m baffled as to why he entered in the first place. If he had withdrawn Andy could’ve had his seeded place.

Brando Says:

Del Potro withdraws from IW. Why the hell did he enter in the first place? Big man: get well soon but ONLY return once 100% ready to do so. No tourney is worth long term damage.

Brando Says:

Novak is pretty much certain now to make the final. Nearly all the big names on one side of the draw.

Slice Tennis Says:

“Novak is pretty much certain now to make the final. Nearly all the big names on one side of the draw.”

That’s what everyone thought about AO as well.

Slice Tennis Says:

I don’t think Novak is going to mount a huge come back and replace Rafa at the top.
Only two people have regained the year end ranking EVER in the open era.
Federer once and Rafa twice.
Novak is not going to challenge Rafa at the top.
Next number one will have to be new one. I have my doubts on Murray and DelPotro is a joke. He will be lucky to finish at top 8.
It looks like we are set for the next weak era.

Gordon Says:

Rafa better than Roger – you are really the biggest troll in here. If you say that Stepanek lost “miserably” in here then you do not understand the game.

And if you honestly believe only injuries can prevent Rafa from winning everything, you are stupider than you think we think you are.

And a tip – Sean and the other writers in here have made a site over the years that is entertaining to visit, read and post on. However, they should really revisit their troll policy.

You insulting Sean, Ben et al because they do not have the same fixation on Nadal as you do is not cool.

Sean Randall Says:

Agreed Gordon. “Rafa better than Roger” is already in moderation. Slice Tennis is heading in that direction.

It just gets so tiresome that every thread turns into Rafa-Roger of late. I get it so if you want to talk about that, head here: (Geez, now you’ve really gone and done it!)

But otherwise that talk between either side won’t be tolerated as much unless it warrants (such as when they play each other or if I make a post about it!).

Slice Tennis Says:


I agree that I have gone over board sometimes and went toe to toe with them.

But do you HONESTLY think you are fair to both sides ?

James Says:

@metan, Rafa at AO said he’d try to be quicker between points. Just keeping his word, I guess.
It was Stepanek who got a time violation warning this time.

@Brando, I didn’t think Delpo was going to meet Novak anyway. He’s far from 100%. Novak will be tested against Marin Cilic.

queen Says:

Sean Randall why don’t u put yourself in moderation. Talking crap everytime. That should replace u.

Sean Randall Says:

Slice Tennis, I do think I am fair, yes. Why am I not?

Slice Tennis Says:

I don’t think so Sean. You never call out who don’t respect Rafa and not the other way around.
If you are really fair show it and give us all a direct answer for this.

Skeezer’s abusive posts got deleted or not?

Yes or No ?

Just to validate my claim.

A Tango Lad Says:

There is one poster on here that is far worse than anyone else in terms of trolling (who is quite proud of this achievement I’m sure) yet continuously gets a free pass. Perhaps one in ten posts by this person is actually about tennis!

The fact that I needn’t even mention said poster’s name, that I’m sure everyone knows who it is, and that this poster goes both unmoderated and never called out speaks for itself.

Now, I’ve said my last piece on this topic as it has nothing to do about tennis for which I apologize.

Sean Randall Says:

Slice Tennis, I’ve deleted several of Skeezer’s posts, a bunch last night.

I believe Madmax is a Federer fan and he/she spent quite a long time in moderation.

You can also look back at the many arguments I’ve had with Federer’s “PR man” Dave.

So I/we welcome both sides with open arms.

Sean Randall Says:

Is this the year Marin Cilic becomes a serious Grand Slam contender? I think we’ll see at the US Open.

BTW, I hate this on-court coaching. I might have to do a post on that later this week.

Another other non-Fedal topics you wish to discuss, fire away.

Slice Tennis Says:

Thanks Sean. Hats off to you. I respect your honesty.

Thanks for openly calling out his lie.

Slice Tennis Says:

A Tango Lad,
Yes we all know who he is.
If we go by Sean’s post I don’t think he will get a free pass anymore.
Lets hope Sean stays true to his words.

Sean Randall Says:

Slice Tennis, what lie would that be?

Hippy Chic Says:

Sean it would be nice to have a poll on who people think will be the next GS champion of the up and coming players,or who people believe is the NONE GS GOAT,or who will be the next world number 1 after Rafa,Roger,Novak etc,or which is the greatest match ever??

Sean Randall Says:

Hippy Chic, all good ideas! We need a new poll!

Skeezer Says:

Thanks for putting these gals / guys on notice. So tired of reading vamos all the time.

Sean Randall Says:

Skeezer, Federer fans also on notice!

Sean Randall Says:

And anyone who wishes to “fight the good fight” can go here:

Slice Tennis Says:

Vamos Sean.
Thanks for exposing the lie.

pigoonse Says:

Cilic might be a dark horse on HC, maybe on grass too. He played well and looked solid winning 6-2, 6-2 over Lorenzi. Hopefully he makes it to the Quarter-final. Matusovic or Robredo next round.

Berdych won the first set but lost the second to Bautista-Agut; now he is struggling a break down to BA in the final set. He had break points a minute ago but lost them both.

pigoonse Says:

Berdych is out. Roberto Batista-Agut is through to the next round. No Berdych/ Dimitrov this year at IW.

Slice Tennis Says:

Roberto Batista-Agut is the man.
How many top 10 scalps he has already in this year. Surely more than Rafa I guess.

Giles Says:

Looks like Kohlschreiber will also make his exit very soon to Lu. Mp Lu.

skeezer Says:

Ok, i get that. You draw a line, that frankly should have been drawn awhile ago.

But then you allow this post to slide in. Whats up with that?

“Slice Tennis Says:
Vamos Sean.
Thanks for exposing the lie.”

Gordon Says:


Thanks for being proactive. Wanna show us that you mean it? Check out Rafa is better than Roger’s 1st comment on the post about Stan. That’s one that needs removing if you folks are serious.

pigoonse Says:

Lu won. Eugenie Bouchard will play on Stadium 3 next!

Batista-Agut – no idea if there are more scalps but he has Delpo’s from a tough 5 set win at AO, Now Berdych’s.

Berdych didn’t look like he wanted to play tennis after the first set.

pigoonse Says:

Eugenie Bouchard future WTA #1!

Time to order Pizza. Gulbis and Sousa are on court and soon Aga Radwanska!

Dimitrov and Djokovic matches tonight.

pigoonse Says:

That new Fedal wars thread was a great idea! Thanks Sean. But I think I will be the only poster interested in what tennis is going on now.

Gulbis is through. One step closer to a Dimitrov – Gulbis rematch.

skeezer Says:

Julian ousts Tsonga in straights? Whoa! Whats up with that? Anyone see that match?
But what do Rafanatics care? No Rafa? Apparently, no talky.
Glad we still have some tennis enthuasists on the blog. IW is a super duper tourney. Wish I was there to watch. Missed it this year, dang.

pigoonse Says:

No didn’t see Tsonga match. I was watching Dimitrov and Robin Haase. You have to watch Dimitrov’s match highlights from tonight.

Missed Thiem vs Simon too – wanted to see how he did against the French ball machine.

Djokovic looked rough around the edges 1st set but got into it in the second set. Hanescu played well. Ajde Nole

A Tango Lad Says:

Well done Dolgopolov!! Bravo indeed!

Roger may win IW after all!

Hopp Suisse!

Okiegal Says:


Good luck to your guy……I think the top half is looking very interesting. How did all those amazing players manage to get in Rafa’s half?? lol No better than Rafa was playing…it would have been a tall order to have defended his title…imo! Roger didn’t have a walk in the park today either….. may the best man win……tennis is so fickle!!

A Tango Lad Says:

Yes Okiegal. Nice to see Roger nearing his best once more.

Tennis is fickle indeed. As soon as we try to say it is predictable, the game proves us wrong. How many times have people tried to write off Roger and Nadal?

I’m sure Nadal will refocus himself in time for the clay season. I hope so!

I have a good feeling about Roger this week.

Okiegal Says:

Yes, Tango, he is! I’m looking forward to him and Stan…..Well, I hope that happens! Exciting tennis going on in California!

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