Fifth seed Rafael Nadal takes on 29th seed Fernando Verdasco in the Men's singles third round match of 2017 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Tuesday.
Standing in the way of a Roger Federer-Nadal quarter-final is Verdasco, who has had a solid start to his 2017 campaign. The world number 29 outclassed France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert in straight sets - 7-6 (5), 6-1in his second round clash on Sunday while his higher-ranked compatriot decimated Guido Pella 6-3, 6-2 in his tournament opener.
Nadal, after having a injury-prone season in 2016, has been giving glimpses of his vintage self this year. The fit-again Spaniard battled against odds to reach the final of Australian Open earlier this year shortly after a quarter-final exit in Brisbane. The world number six lost a hard-fought final against Federer but quickly put behind the disappointment to reach another title match in Acapulco last week.
Despite stumbling against Sam Querrey in the final, Nadal looks rejuvenated and hungry for more glory in the new season. Handed a tough draw, in which he is expected to meet Federer on Thursday, Nadal now needs to overcome Verdasco, who has been troubling him the most, later today.
The 34-year-old Spaniard has won the last three of their last five meetings, including the 2016 Australian Open first-round match. Despite having a 16-3 head-to-head advantage over Verdasco, Nadal will be wary of his opponent, who recently reached the final of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, in which he lost to Andy Murray.
In-form Nadal would not want an early exit at Indian Wells, which is witnessing top stars battling for glory. However, the Spaniard needs to be at his best to fend off the challenge from his compatriot and progress further in the tournament.
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