Rafael Nadal hits a return to Ryan Harrison during day four of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday. Photo: AFP
While Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal won their opening matches in straight sets on Saturday, world No.4 David Ferrer became the first top seed to make an early exit from the BNP Paribas Open.
Spaniard Ferrer, a winner of two ATP titles this year who is known for his speed across the court, was ousted 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 by big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in the second round at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Four-time champion Federer, however, wasted little time in pounding Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-3 with a ruthless display of seemingly effortless movement and razor-sharp shot-making.
In a heavily anticipated evening encounter, Spaniard Nadal overcame early resistance from American Ryan Harrison to win 7-6, 6-2 in his first match on a hard-court surface in 346 days, following a left knee injury.
Nadal, a twice former champion at Indian Wells, did not appear to be in any discomfort after being sidelined for seven months last year and he dominated the second set before wrapping up victory in just over an hour and a half.
"I am satisfied to be in the next round," said the Spanish left-hander who has enjoyed a successful tournament run on clay in recent weeks, winning two ATP titles after reaching three finals. "Two weeks ago, I didn't really know if I would be playing here, so I am happy to be here. I feel fine."
Nadal will next face Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
Federer, who beat American John Isner 7-6, 6-3 in last year's final at Indian Wells, was in peerless form on Saturday, blending a series of crunching ground strokes with his typically dominant net play to break Istomin's serve twice in each set.
"It's nice to be back as defending champion and to start so strong today," Swiss maestro Federer said after sealing his win in just under an hour on his second match point.
"I came out and played exceptionally well so I am happy. It felt good from the start and I was able to maintain that level of play.
"I never thought he got into the match, you know, at all. That gives you obviously even more confidence."
Federer will next play Croatian Ivan Dodig, who eased past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-2.
Earlier, fourth-seeded Ferrer was overpowered by the towering Anderson in the final set as the South African booked his place in the third round after a contest lasting just under 2 hours.
Serving for the match in dazzling afternoon sunshine, Anderson earned his first win against the Spaniard in two career meetings when Ferrer dumped a backhand service return into the net.
The South African, ranked 37th, clinched both fists in jubilant celebration before walking to the net to shake hands with his opponent.
"That was fantastic," smiled Anderson, who had surgery on his right elbow in late January. "Beating a top-five-in-the-world player is always a great feeling, especially against somebody like David, who doesn't go away."
Anderson, who broke Ferrer's serve once in the second set and twice in the third, will next face Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, who crushed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-0 earlier in the day.
Reuters - Global Times