Rafael Nadal is seeking the fourth title of the season in Indian Wells, hoping to lift the trophy in the desert for the first time in nine years. Rafa faces Sebastian Korda in the second round, training with the young American a couple of days ago and setting the second meeting versus him after Korda toppled Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round.
Korda can not wait to meet his idol for the first time after Roland Garros 2020, improving his game in the last 18 months and hoping to challenge the 21-time Australian Open champion. Sebastian came to Paris in October 2020 ranked 213th, passing three qualifying rounds and standing as one of the youngest players in the main draw.
The American defeated Andreas Seppi, John Isner and Pedro Martinez to advance into the last 16, where he met his idol, Nadal. Korda had a chance to talk with Nadal for ten minutes, and he learned a lot from the experience.
Rafa beat Sebastian 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 55 minutes, controlling the pace on a windy day to move into the quarter-final. Nadal saved five out of six break chances and produced eight breaks from 11 opportunities, never losing focus despite challenging conditions.
Rafa saved two break points in the first game and delivered breaks in games two and four to open a 5-0 gap after 28 minutes.
Rafael Nadal and Sebastian Korda trained ahead of Indian Wells.
The American held at love in game six with a service winner to add his name on the scoreboard before the Spaniard closed the set a few minutes later.
Nadal grabbed three comfortable holds in set number two and stole Korda's serve thrice for 6-1 and another step towards the finish line. At the beginning of the third set, the youngster showed the fighting spirit and broke with a backhand winner for 2-0.
Shifting into a higher gear, Rafa rattled off the next six games to race over the top and seal the deal with a return winner at 5-2. "It's going to be different. I'm not going to have those first-time jitters against Rafa, and I know what to expect.
He's going to know what he's going to expect from me, and it's going to be a fun and exciting match for sure. I got it to a tie break for the first time on the practice court, but I lost it, unfortunately. But it's going to be awesome.
Rafa is my biggest idol, and I admire him so much. He's a great person, and I'm looking forward to it," Sebastian Korda said.