Djokovic ‘cleared out of the way’ for Nadal says host
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On a day full of twists and shocks on Court One at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Dan Evans was unable to produce what might have been the biggest of the lot as he fell to Rafael Nadal in California. The Australian Open champion was able to dispatch his British opponent in straight sets at 7-5, 6-3 and take his unbeaten streak at the start of the 2022 season to an impressive 17 matches.
Earlier in the day, in the same arena, Alexander Zverev had been beaten by the American Tommy Paul and Gael Monfils rolled back the years to dispense of world number one Daniil Medvedev.
A hat-trick of surprise victories proved to be too much to ask for, however, as Nadal showed his class to reduce the number of British players left in the men’s draw to one.
Cameron Norrie is now the sole Brit left in the competition, and comes up against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round early on Tuesday morning.
Despite being against the odds, it was Evans who secured the first break of the game courtesy of several fine point-winning shots.
The highlight of the lot was an exquisite forehand drive which found the back corner beautifully after he was invited to the net by a Nadal drop shot.
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On a day full of twists and shocks on Court One at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Dan Evans was unable to produce what might have been the biggest of the lot as he fell to Rafael Nadal in California. The Australian Open champion took _____ to dispatch his British opponent and take his unbeaten streak at the start of the 2022 season to 17 matches.
As both men held their next two service games each, the man from Birmingham was inching closer to taking a one set lead over the 21-time Grand Slam champion.
But those hopes seemed to vanish when Nadal produced an outrageous return of serve which kissed the very edge of the baseline to leave his opponent exasperated.
Evans came up with some corkers of his own during what was largely a high-quality first set.
However, it proved to not be enough as, despite producing a very high standard of play, it still wasn’t enough to beat Nadal who was in stubborn form.
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The Spaniard found that second break he needed to avoid a tie-break and seal a 7-5 victory just shy of the hour mark.
To get no reward for his efforts would have been difficult to take, so it wasn’t all that surprising to see the Spaniard really take control of the match from there.
After a fairly simple hold of serve, Nadal broke early to make it 2-0 and really give Evans a mountain to climb if he was to pull off an unlikely victory.
Evans finally got on the board at 3-1, but it was largely one-way traffic at this point.
The Briton appeared to have most of his energy in that titanic duel in the first set, and had no answer to his opponent’s brilliance most of the time in the second.
Nadal, however, was somewhere close to his silky smooth best – although it was at this point when his serve started to slip a little and give his opponent hope that there was still something in the game for him.
He might have even broken back to make more of a match of it, but Nadal reduced a break-saving backhand at the net which had the crowd on their feet and his coach punching the air.
Evans was struggling to match Nadal’s brilliance, but it was a huge compliment to the Briton that he was forcing his opponent to produce some spectacular winners.
Even more credit to him that he avoided being blown away after a bad start to the second set, holding again to make it 4-2 despite looking like he might have been broken for a second time.
But Nadal won his next two service games to see out the tie and cement his status as favourite to win the competition now that Medvedev and Zverev have been knocked out.
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