ATP Indian Wells: Rafael Nadal - Fernando Verdasco Third Round Preview

Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco meet for a second time this year at the BNP Paribas Open. The pair met at the Australian Open in the first round with Verdasco stunning his countryman in five sets in Melbourne Park. This will be the second time they see each other at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with the duo playing doubles together against the Bryans, losing in a match tiebreak.

So Far At Indian Wells

The fourth-seeded Spaniard received a bye and faced off against big-hitting Luxembourg native Gilles Muller. After a quick opening set, the 14-time Grand Slam champion dropped the second as Muller forced a third. On a very windy night in the California desert, it was Nadal who played aggressive, attacking tennis when it mattered as he closed out the match with his trademark passing shot.

Being unseeded, Verdasco has had to play two matches leading to this showdown. He took out qualifier Peter Polansky in straight sets. He then benefitted from a retirement by Martin Klizan whilst leading 5-3 in the first.

Head-To-Head

This will be the 19th all-time meeting between the two countryman, with Nadal leading by a wide margin of 15-3. However, Verdasco has won three of the last four matchups, including the last two contested on hard court (this year’s Australian Open and last year’s Miami Open). Their last four meetings have gone the distance, and with Nadal lacking confidence plus Verdasco taking their last matchup, this one is likely to go that way.

Rafael Nadal of Spain congratulates Fernando Verdasco of Spain on winning thier first round match during day two of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Analysis

Both Spanish players are lefties and have some similarities to their game. Nadal hits with heavy topspin while Verdasco can hit through the court with tremendous power. The power was on display throughout their first encounter this year, with Verdasco hitting some monster forehands. The world number 65 also has the powerful lefty serve to trouble Nadal.

Nadal played his final few games against Muller with the aggression that he’s showed throughout his career when closing out matches. He’ll need to continue to attack and to hit deep into the court to get Verdasco on the defensive. When the world number 65 is playing behind the baseline, he tends to get more complacent, which will allow for short balls for the 2013 Indian Wells champ to attack or volley.

The conditions in Indian Wells will play a major factor today. In Nadal’s opening round match against Muller, it was an extremely windy night which helped Nadal extremely as the ball was not going through the court. The match was also played at night, which also kept the ball down. With this match being played later in the day, the conditions will favor Nadal.

Prediction: Nadal in three

The courts of Indian Wells play much slower than the courts of Melbourne Park which will please Nadal, plus the slower conditions later in the day will also help. The world number five is resilient when people are counting him out, and this seems to be one of those cases. Last time that Verdasco defeated Nadal, the 14-time Grand Slam champion responded with a victory.

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