Nadal survives Indian Wells scare

  • Last Updated: March 9 2014, 9:10 GMT

Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived a serious scare against Radek Stepanek before recovering to reach the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Nadal survives Indian Wells scare

Stepanek, an experienced and tricky customer, came out firing and dominated the first set.

Nadal rallied to level but found himself 0-40 down in the sixth game of the decider before eventually pulling out a 2-6 6-3 7-5 victory.

The Spaniard, who next meets another quirky player in Alexandr Dolgopolov, revealed the back injury that severely hampered him in the Australian Open final is still on his mind.

Nadal served eight double faults, and he said: "I was a little bit scared for the back. I am not feeling yet 100 per cent confident with my serve.

"He is not the right player to play against in the first match because what you want to find is rhythm and against him every point is different."

Roger Federer extended his winning run with a 6-2 7-6 (7/5) victory over Paul-Henri Mathieu.

The Swiss came into the tournament as the form player on the men's side after winning the high-profile event in Dubai last week.

Federer's countryman Stanislas Wawrinka looked to have a difficult outing against 6ft 10in Ivo Karlovic for his first regular tour match since beating Nadal to win the Australian Open in January.

But the third seed avoided any drama in a 6-3 7-5 win.

He said: "I'm just feeling great and happy to be back, especially here. It's an amazing tournament.

"I was a little bit scared about the way I was going to play. But after five or six days on the practice court with (coach) Magnus (Norman), I was feeling really good. I'm really happy with my level. I really think I'm playing great tennis."

Lleyton Hewitt will have to wait a little longer for his 600th career win after losing 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 to in-form 17th seed Kevin Anderson while Jerzy Janowicz's struggles continued.

The 6ft 8in Pole looked the coming man when he reached the Wimbledon semi-finals last summer and gave Andy Murray a fright, but he has reached the last four just once in all his tournaments since.

Janowicz served for the match and held match point against Colombian Alejandro Falla in Indian Wells but lost out in a deciding tie-break.

It was another bad day, meanwhile, for the US men, with Ryan Harrison, Sam Querrey, Tim Smyczek and Michael Russell all losing.

That left John Isner, who has yet to play his first match, as the only home player left in the men's singles.

Harrison's defeat came against Italian Fabio Fognini, who had an extraordinary rant at umpire Lars Graff over a line call in the second set.

Tenth seed Milos Raonic returned to action after ankle problems with a tight three-set win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin while there were also victories for Tommy Haas, Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils.

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