Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime hit practice court in Indian Wells

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Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime hit practice court in Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal has won 13 out of 16 matches so far in 2020 but it wasn't enough to keep no. 1 spot ahead of Novak Djokovic who moved ahead of him after lifting the eighth Australian Open crown. After the quarter-final in Melbourne to Dominic Thiem, Nadal spent some time traveling around the world and playing against David Ferrer in Kuwait, Roger Federer in Cape Town and Grigor Dimitrov five days ago in Atlanta.

Before the trip to the USA, Rafa claimed his third crown in Acapulco, beating all rivals in straight sets and lifting the trophy for the first time since the US Open last September. Now, the 35-time Masters 1000 champion is preparing for yet another campaign at the premium series of the ATP tournaments, seeking the first Indian Wells crown in seven years and the ATP throne is Novak Djokovic suffers an early defeat.

Making a debut in 2004 at the age of 17, Rafa won 54 matches and three titles in the desert, beating Novak Djokovic in 2007, Andy Murray in 2009 and Juan Martin del Potro in 2013, never reaching the final again. Twelve months ago, the Spaniard had to withdraw before the semi-final clash with Roger Federer due to knee issues, hoping to bounce back in the next two weeks and fight for the title.

Shortly after he arrived in Indian Wells, Nadal had a chance to practice with world no. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime who also earned 13 wins in 2020, losing finals in Rotterdam and Marseille and still looking for that first ATP crown following five defeats in the title matches so far.

Felix made the Masters 1000 debut two years ago as a qualifier, scoring one triumph and reaching the third round a year ago when he defeated world no. 10 Stefanos Tsitsipas before a tight loss against Yoshihito Nishioka in the deciding tie break.

Nadal and Auger-Aliassime had an intense run, ripping deep and hard balls from the baseline and preparing for the start of the first Masters 1000 tournament of the season that should bring some thrilling tennis already from the first and second rounds.