Nadal, Federer march ahead

Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot to Peter Gojowczyk of Germany during the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament on Sunday. AFP

World number two Rafael Nadal raced into the third round of the ATP Indian Wells Masters as Roger Federer made a less speedy but still successful start to his quest for a sixth title.

Nadal, a three-time Indian Wells winner, needed just 72 minutes to get past Jared Donaldson 6-1 6-1 on Sunday.

Federer, who is seeking to break out of a tie with top seed Novak Djokovic for most titles in the California desert, looked set for a similarly easy time of it, but had to turn back a second-set challenge from German Peter Gojowczyk in a 6-1, 7-5 win.

Fourth-seeded Federer said he was relieved not to go to a second-set tiebreaker after falling behind 3-1 to the free-swinging German who is ranked 85th in the world.

The Swiss regained the break and, after saving four break points to make it 4-4, he broke Gojowczyk for a 6-5 lead, the German double-faulting on break point to give Federer a chance to serve it out.

Nadal, playing his third tournament of a year that started with a crushing loss to Djokovic in the Australian Open final and included an early exit in Acapulco, converted five of his six break chances against Donaldson and never faced a break point himself.

He next faces Diego Schwartzman, who beat Spain's Roberto Carbralles 6-3, 6-1. Nadal is 6-0 against the Argentinian.

In other early matches, sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan survived a scare in a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory over France's Adrian Mannarino.

Nishikori next faces 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who defeated France's Lucas Pouille 6-2 3-6 6-4.

Eighth-seeded American John Isner routed Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin 6-0 6-2, the most lopsided win of Isner's career.

Tenth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic downed Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 to book a meeting with 19-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the 24th seed who beat American Steve Johnson 6-3 6-4.

Serena withdraws

The women's event lost 23-times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, who retired against Garbine Muguruza with what organisers described as a viral illness. The Spaniard was ahead 6-3 1-0 at the time.

Former Wimbledon and French Open champion Muguruza was happy with the way she had been playing against Williams before the American's retirement.

"I think I played well," she said. "I'm going to take the positive side of that."

World number two Simona Halep survived a tough challenge from Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova to win their third round match 7-6(3) 7-5.

Sixth seed Elina Svitolina, looking for her first title of the year, beat Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-4 to advance while world number seven Kiki Bertens reached the fourth round at Indian Wells for the first time after a 7-6(10), 6-4 win over Briton Johanna Konta.

Bertens will next meet Muguruza.

 

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