Injured Federer sees off Dodig

Argentine Mayer withdraws to hand Nadal easy passage into last-16

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer stayed on track for a mouth-watering quarterfinal showdown at the BNP Paribas Open after they both advanced to the last 16 on Monday.

Spaniard Nadal, twice champion at Indian Wells, was gifted his spot when Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer withdrew with a back injury before the start of their third-round match.

Federer, a four-time winner of the ATP Masters 1000 event, had minor back problems of his own but progressed with a commanding 6-3, 6-1 victory over Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in a contest lasting just 61 minutes.

Federer and Nadal last met a year ago, also at Indian Wells, when the Swiss won a semifinal battle 6-3, 6-4.

Federer tweaked his back during the latter stages of his match against Dodig, but with a rest day on Tuesday he was not worried that it could affect his last 16 match on Wednesday.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened in my career, so, I know how to deal with it,” said the world number two.

Federer will next meet compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 7-5 in an evening match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.  Though Nadal has beaten Gulbis in their four previous meetings, the Latvian looked forward to challenging the Spaniard after winning his 13th consecutive match on Monday.

"When was the last time I won 13 matches in a row?" 67th-ranked Gulbis said after fighting back to beat Italy's Andreas Seppi 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. "Of course he's a great player, but I honestly believe that if I play my best game I can beat him.”
In other matches, sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych eased past Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-1 while 10th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet swept aside Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-1, 6-4.

Patchy Azarenka wins

Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka struggled to find her rhythm against Kirsten Flipkens in the third round on Monday but finished strong to beat the Belgian 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. After the wayward start, the top seed and defending champion stormed through the final set, breaking her opponent’s serve in the first, third and fifth games before serving out for victory when a Flipkens backhand flew long.

The Belarusian is bidding to become the first woman to successfully defend the WTA title at Indian Wells since Martina Navratilova in 1991.

Azarenka will next face Poland’s Urszula Radwanska, who earlier overcame American Jamie Hampton 6-0, 7-6 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Fourth seed Angelique Kerber also advanced, heeding the advice of her coach to come from 1-4 down in the final set to beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 7-6.

Kerber will next meet Spaniard Garbine Muguruza Blanco, who swept past Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-0. In other matches, seventh seed Samantha Stosur of Australia overcame China’s Peng Shuai 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, eighth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki crushed Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-1 and 10th-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova pummeled Germany’s Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-2.

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