The world no. 2 and three-time Indian Wells champion Rafael Nadal is through to the quarter-final in the desert for the first time since 2016, defeating a qualifier Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 26 minutes. This was the tenth win of the season for the Spaniard who lost serve only once, dropping 13 points behind the initial shot and mounting the pressure on Filip who couldn't deal with it after a great run that saw him winning five matches overall.
Nadal defended the second serve in style, firing 25 winners and 19 unforced errors to dominate in the most extended exchanges and bring the match home without spending too much time on the court. Filip gave his best to stay in touch with a great rival, hitting the same number of winners and unforced errors and suffering three breaks to trail from start to finish and propel Rafa over the finish line.
Finding the right zone from the very first shot, Nadal broke in game two after a loose forehand from Krajinovic, wasting a game point for a 4-1 and allowing Filip to break back in that fifth game when his backhand landed long.
Instead of building on that, the Serb got broken at love in the very next game to push Rafa 4-2 up, with the Spaniard concluding the opener in game nine with three winners, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
2017 Paris Masters finalist saved another break point in game five with a solid attack but there was nothing he could do to extend the duel, with Rafa controlling the pace in his games to seal the deal with a forehand down the line winner at 5-4 to move into the last eight and stay on the title course.
In the next match, Rafa will face John Isner or Karen Khachanov and that should be the more serious test in comparison to the one he had today.