The “Quarter of Death” officially began Sunday at Indian Wells and things went according to plans with all higher seeds advancing.
Rafael Nadal went down an early break to Guido Pella before getting back into gear for a 6-3, 6-2.
“It was a solid match,” said Nadal. “It was a first-round match where I didn’t try to do amazing things. I tried to play solid. I tried to find the rhythm and I think I did. For moments I played well, for moments I played a little bit less well. The important thing is I won and I won in straight sets. I had some good feelings for a lot of moments. In general terms, I think I played a solid match.
“I adapt myself better to the dry heat than to the humid heat. I think it’s easier for the players to resist that conditions than when it’s very, very humid. But it’s true that today was hot and there was a lot of sun out there. It was difficult to control the ball. The ball was flying a lot.”
Nadal now meets countryman Fernando Verdasco tomorrow.
Five-time champion Novak Djokovic was up next and the Serb’s struggles continued. Djokovic cruised in the first set against Kyle Edmund but things changed in the second.
Edmund grabbed an early break and had a point for a second. He still led 5-2 and then served for the second at 5-3 but could close it out. Djokovic came back to force a tiebreak which he took for the 6-4, 7-6(5) win.
“I think I played very well in the first set. Second set was obviously up and down,” said Djokovic. “But credit to Kyle for playing some really aggressive tennis and taking it all out. He made a lot of winners in the beginning and midway through the second.
“There was not much wrong I did. I did miss some forehands. But other than that, it was a very solid match. Good, quality tennis, a good test. I’m just pleased with the overall performance.”
Up next for Djokovic is another showdown with Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine beat his compatriot Federico Delbonis 7-6(5), 6-3.
Roger Federer opened play in the evening and quickly dismissed Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-1.
“Very happy. The knee is a thing of the past, which is great. I don’t even have to think or talk about it. So I thought the match went really well,” said Federer. “I’m very pleased with how it went. And moving on to the next round, it’s going to be a different matchup, so I’ve got to adjust again.”
On Tuesday, Federer will face Steve Johnson who came from behind to deny Kevin Anderson.
The big upset of the day was new father Taylor Fritz stunning Marin Cilic. The 19-year-old Fritz was down a set and a break before roaring back for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory, his first over a Top 10 player.
“Just the whole experience with the crowd, how I came back in the match, words can’t describe it, really,” Fritz said.
Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev advanced to a third round collision. Jack Sock and Grigor Dimitrov were also winners, and they too will meet Tuesday.
Kei Nishikori cruised over Dan Evans and Donald Young upended recent Acapulco winner Sam Querrey.
Today, former finalist John Isner takes on Gael Monfils. Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem and former semifinalist David Goffin are also in action.
In doubles, Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray return for second round matches.
MONDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
WTA – P. Parmentier (FRA) vs  A. Kerber (GER)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP –  M. Zverev (GER) vs  D. Thiem (AUT)
WTA – L. Safarova (CZE) vs  V. Williams (USA)
ATP –  S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs  P. Kohlschreiber (GER)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA –  M. Keys (USA) vs N. Osaka (JPN)
Not Before 8:30 pm
ATP –  G. Monfils (FRA) vs  J. Isner (USA)
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