Madrid, Spain – Spain's Rafael Nadal advanced to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over countryman Marcel Granollers, who put up more resistance in the second set after a dismal start.
Nadal, the second seed at this event played in Indian Wells, California, breezed through the first set of Tuesday's match in just 29 minutes by breaking Granollers' serve in the second and sixth games.
The second set then began in similar fashion with Nadal breaking his opponent's serve immediately and then holding at love for a 2-0 lead, but Granollers then decided to throw caution to the wind and attack the world No. 2 with his full arsenal.
Granollers held serve in the next game and then stunned Nadal with some outstanding play to put him in a 0-40 hole. The world No. 2 managed to get out of trouble on that occasion and take a 3-1 lead, but the match was evenly contested from that point forward.
Nadal got out of another jam when serving in the sixth game of the second set and then served for the match at 5-4.
With nothing to lose, Granollers played some of his best tennis and forced the 10-time Grand Slam champion to win some tough baseline rallies to scrape out the victory.
Nadal was unable to convert his first two match points but finally finished off the encounter with ace to advance to the fourth round.
"I think I played well. It was a comfortable first set. I think I did very well in the first set. I didn't play my best in the second. I stopped the legs a little bit in the second for moments, and at the end in the set I was in a little bit danger," Nadal said in the post-match press conference.
"The truth is I had a few mistakes, especially for the backhand ... and then I was in a little bit trouble. But I am happy that I finished the match well."
Next up for Nadal in the fourth round will be Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov, a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 winner over Cyprus' Marcos Baghdatis.
Although the Spaniard has won both of his previous meetings against the flashy world No. 21, Nadal said he is wary of Dolgopolov's talent.
"He's a crazy player because you can expect everything. He can play really aggressive, he can play very fast, he has a very good serve, and the ball is going too fast sometimes," Nadal said.
"I have to play long to make him hit the balls in more difficult positions. That's what I have to do, but I know he can hit a winner from every place on the court."
Nadal has won the Indian Wells tournament, the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season, on two occasions: 2007 and 2009.
Also advancing Tuesday to the fourth round were Argentines Juan Martin del Potro and David Nalbandian, who defeated Spain's Fernando Verdasco and Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, respectively.
Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci also advanced to the fourth round when Russia's Nikolay Davydenko withdrew due to illness.
Del Potro will next take on Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, who upset fifth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer on Tuesday; Nalbandian will square off against big-hitting Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; and Bellucci will play red-hot world No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland.
The BNP Paribas Open is one of the season's nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, which rank just below the four Grand Slam tournaments and the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in terms of ranking points and prestige.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.