Rafael Nadal won his Indian Wells quarter-final on Thursday, overcoming a dreadful start and a measured comeback attempt from Nick Kyrgios. Nadal improved his record against Kyrgios to 6-3, including wins in their last three meetings, with the 7-6(0), 5-7, 6-4 victory. Nadal, a three-time champion in Indian Wells, will be making his 11th appearance in the semi-finals against Carlos Alcaraz Garfia. The Spaniard was down a break in the first set and faced two break points in his first service game of the decider, but he held on to win both sets.
“I think for moments I played well,” Nadal said after the match. “It’s difficult to play against him, always tough because he changes the dynamic of the point very quick and his serve is huge, especially the first serve.”
“I think I played a good third set. Returning better. I was solid with the serve; I just suffered in one game with my serve. Nick is one of these kind of players that you’re going to have problems when he’s motivated,” he added.
When Kyrgios served for the first set at 5-4, Nadal broke his serve for the first time in the tournament. The Australian wild card, who led 30/15 in that game, had held in all 30 of his previous service games, saving nine break points en route to the quarter-finals. The match took a different turn after that break, as Kyrgios became frustrated and Nadal began to successfully repel his opponent’s power. A shutout tie-break ended with a point penalty for an audible obscenity, Kyrgios’ late outburst highlighting the magnitude of the set turnaround.
However, in the second set, the Australian was impressive, dominating on serve and causing Nadal concern by taking the initiative on the return throughout the set. Kyrgios dropped just two points on serve in the stanza, winning 88% (15/17) of those exchanges. With the help of a Nadal break point and a few untimely errors, he pushed Nadal to 30/30 in three return games before making his own late breakthrough.
The first and third sets ended in a similar fashion, with Nadal blunting Kyrgios’ attack and errors creeping into the Australian’s game. For the most part, Kyrgios played with power and assurance, with the exceptions of the final phases of the first and third sets. With the exception of a sloppy game that cost him the second set, Nadal was steady throughout, raising his game slightly at key moments to frustrate the in-form Australian.