There were obviously some nerves at the beginning but Nadal soon brushed them off saving two break points in his very first game to hold and for Kei it was a pretty straight forward start with a very comfortable and quick hold of serve to begin proceedings.
It didn’t take long for the groundstrokes of Kei to cause issues for the former world number one getting good depth on the court and coming up with a beautiful backhand passing shot to begin the rally set up the game perfectly and the Japanese number one got the first break of serve and once again followed up with a quick hold of serve to lead 3-1 with just one point dropped on serve in two games and Nadal only winning ten out of twenty pieces on serve in his first couple of games.
It didn’t take long for the first bit of drama in the match with Kei up at 3-2 30-30. A forehand of his was called in, Nadal returned and the Kei hit a great winner and once he had lost the point at least 4 seconds either Nadal challenged the forehand of Kei which hawk eye then showed as out however that challenge shouldn’t have been allowed as Nadal had continued until he lost the point! Nadal then had break point, broke back and from 1-3 down was level at 3-3!
Sometimes all you can do is watch and applaud. Nadal produced some stunning forehands throughout the week so far but the one to set up set points was simply brilliant, the spin on it was something special and well he continued to defend incredibly well and got the rewards to take the first set 6-4 after being 1-3 down earlier on in the set.
Things went from good to not so good to bad for Kei. He continued to hit errors and just looked a little lost out on court despite such a good start at the beginning of the match!
Another break of serve looked likely when Nadal saw another break point but Kei managed to get himself on the board but even at 1-3 down it seemed a long way back for him.
Well another break of serve did look on the cards but it was a bit of a surprise as it was Kei who got the break back with some of that aggressive play from the baseline which we hadn’t seen since the first few games but whilst serving to level the set at 4-4 was broken and Nadal would serve for the match.
At 0-30 things looked like getting tricky but three points in a row for Rafa and he arrived at match point which he sealed in style with a forehand winner up the line to finish to win 6-4 6-3.
Overall a very solid performance probably his best of the week however he was helped by Nishikori who seemed to switch off after such a good start.
One stat which stood out in Montreal when they met last year was the second serve points won. Nadal’s second serve in Montreal was picked off by Nishikori but in Indian Wells today it was the complete opposite with Kei just winning 37% of points behind the serve.