After missing the latter part of the 2018 season with a knee injury, Rafael Nadal made a strong start the following year. The Spaniard reached the 2019 Australian Open final without dropping a set, playing well but falling in the title clash to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
Nadal wasted match points against Nick Kyrgios in the Acapulco second round and headed to Indian Wells wanting to go far. The world number 2 faced Jared Donaldson in the opener in the desert and scored a 6-1 6-1 win in 72 minutes, his 51st in Indian Wells.
The Spaniard lost three games against the American at Shanghai 2017, and was even more dominant in this one to navigate to the next round. Rafa gave up nine points after the initial blow and never faced a break point to keep the pressure on the other side.
Jared was a far cry from those numbers, dropping more than half the points in his games and receiving five breaks from six chances offered to Rafa. Nadal fired 18 winners and ten unforced errors, leaving the young opponent in a 12-19 ratio and dominating the shorter, middle and late rallies to seal the deal in style.
Donaldson got off to a winning start after a knee injury. We didn't see much more of him afterwards though, as he lost in the Miami opening round two weeks later and recently retired from tennis.
Nadal will miss a large part of the clay-court season
During a press conference at the BNP Paribas Open, Rafael Nadal recalled an incident from Roland Garros in 2005 when the crowd was constantly on his back.
The Spaniard said the atmosphere at times was "unplayable" but that his job was to maintain his focus and find a way to carry on. "I've always had a very basic point of view and it's to do the things that are going to help you play better or win more.
You can be sad, you can be very upset - if that helps you play better or win more, do it. But that's not true in my case," Nadal said. "When I am upset or lose my concentration, I say, I am not this kind of guy [who gets upset].
I like to be positive, not negative. Not just on the tennis court, in my normal life too. So, of course, I remember that match and for a moment it was unplayable, but was not my job to stop that. It was the referee's job to stop this atmosphere that was making it impossible to play tennis in that moment," he said.
"But then I think we stopped for light or rain, I don't know, and then we come back the next day. But I just tried to do the things that help me to keep going."