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Nadal eyes fourth Indian Wells title, tries to remain undefeated in 2022

Rafael Nadal awaits either Sebastian Korda or a qualifier in his Indian Wells opener and he could face Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals. Nadal is a three-time champion in the desert, having triumphed in 2007, 2009, 2013.

The clay-court swing is traditionally Rafael Nadal’s favorite time of year, but in 2022 he is steamrolling into the BNP Paribas Open with an undefeated record. That’s right; Nadal powered his way through the first two months of the season without losing a single time. His incredible hot streak includes triumphs at an ATP 250 in Melbourne, the Australian Open, and the recent 500-point event in Acapulco. Adding it all up, the Spaniard boasts a 15-0 record as he heads into the “Sunshine Double” in Indian Wells and Miami.

Can Nadal remain perfect? His draw may leave the door open, as it’s not the easiest but at the same time could be more difficult. The 21-time Grand Slam champion is on the opposite side from Novak Djokovic, although in all likelihood that won’t end up being a good thing since Djokovic is unlikely to play. The second-ranked Serb is currently in the field of 96, but as of now he cannot enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner.

“Novak Djokovic is on the tournament entry list, and therefore is placed into the draw today,” the tournament stated while Tuesday’s draw ceremony was ongoing. “We are currently in communication with his team; however, it has not been determined if he will participate in the event by getting CDC approval to enter the country. We will provide updates in the future as we learn more.”

Nadal’s presence in the top half of the bracket means he could face Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals in what would be a rematch of the Australian Open title match. The 35-year-old staged an epic comeback from two sets down and 2-3, 0-40 in the third to overcome Medvedev after five hours and 24 minutes. Nadal improved to 5-1 lifetime in the head-to-head series with the current world No. 1 following a 6-3, 6-3 beatdown in the Acapulco semis.

Of course, Nadal is never one to get caught looking ahead when it comes to his draw. His first task on the heels of an opening bye as the No. 4 seed will be against either Sebastian Korda or a qualifier in round two. It is well known that Nadal is Korda’s idol, and they practiced together in the main stadium on Tuesday.

The rest of Nadal’s path to a potential fourth Indian Wells title could include Dan Evans in the third round, Denis Shapovalov in the last 16, and either Casper Ruud or Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals.

Men’s main-draw action begins on Thursday. Nadal will play his first match on either Saturday or Sunday.

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