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Nadal vs Khachanov ATP Indian Wells Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal faces tough Khachanov test in Indian Wells quarters

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 15 Mar 2019
  • Rafael Nadal vs Karen Khachanov is live from Indian Wells on Friday, 15 March from 1:30pm local time/ 8:30pm GMT
  • Nadal leads Khachanov 5-0 on head-to-head
Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

World No. 2, Rafael Nadal seeks his 10th Indian Wells semi-final when he takes on Russia's Karen Khachanov on Friday. 

Nadal made eight consecutive semi-finals (or better) at Indian Wells between 2006 and 2013, winning his three titles within that run, but the great Spaniard has had a stuttering spell at the tournament since then, as he has contested just the one semi-final, in 2016, and was absent last year due to a hip injury- the first time he hadn't played Indian Wells since 2005.

Nadal has played like a man on a mission in this year's tournament, blasting his way past Jared Donaldson, Diego Schwartzman and Filip Krajinovic without dropping a set to reach the quarter finals for the first time in three years. The 32-year-old has conceded just 13 games in his three matches. He did not face any break points in his opening two matches against Donaldson and Schwartzman, but he had a minor blemish in his fourth round meeting against Krajinovic, dropping his serve in the fifth game of the first set. I thought he also made a few too many unforced errors, especially on the forehand wing. All of that obviously didn't deter him from winning comfortably, but Nadal agreed after the match that he didn't play as well as he did in his previous two matches.

"I probably played a little bit worse today than yesterday. Maybe because of the conditions, [it was] windier out there today. But in general terms [it's] been a positive victory again. Happy the way I played."

Nadal sent down seven aces during the contest, converted 69% of his first-serve points and won a very impressive 19 of 23 points on second serve. 

Nadal is continuing his search for a first title since August. Injuries have restricted his chances of adding to his 80 career titles, as this is only his fourth tournament since he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Rogers Cup final in Toronto last season. 

A knee injury forced him to retire from his semi-final meeting with Juan Martin del Potro at last year's US Open, and he would not be seen on the tour again for the rest of the year, with subsequent abdominal and ankle injuries ruling him out of action. Nadal pulled out of his scheduled 2019 opener in Brisbane due to a thigh complaint, but he eventually made his comeback at the Australian Open, looking healthy and refreshed on his way to the final, before crashing into the Djokovic juggernaut in the championship match.

The great Spaniard then lost to Nick Kyrgios in a dramatic second round contest in Acapulco, with Nadal failing to take any one of three match points from 6-3 in the final set tie break. He has generally looked very good at Indian Wells, but he faces a big step up in opposition from now on, from Khachanov in the quarter finals to a potential meeting with Roger Federer in the semis- if he gets past Khachanov. 

After an extremely slow start to the season, Karen Khachanov has finally come alive in 2019, powering his way in characteristic fashion into his first quarter final of the year.

Karen Khachanov. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
After a superb 2018, during which he claimed three titles, including a stunning Masters 1000 success in Paris, where he defeated four consecutive top-ten players- John Isner, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic- to finish the season at 11th in the world rankings, Khachanov was expected to kick on for the top ten this season, but he was markedly off the pace in the opening two months, going 2-5 in his first five ATP World Tour events. (He also had a couple of wins in the Davis Cup as Russia defeated Switzerland to qualify for the inaugural Davis Cup Finals). Those two wins were recorded in one event- at the Australian Open, where he defeated Peter Gojowczyk and Yoshihito Nishioka before falling to Roberto Bautista-Agut. He crashed at the first hurdles in Doha, Sofia, Rotterdam and Dubai, and also missed his title defence in Marseille due to health issues.

Prior to 2019, Khachanov was 1-2 at Indian Wells, and fell in the opening round to Evgeny Donskoy last season, but he's had by far his best spell in the Californian desert this season, taking down Feliciano Lopez in three sets in the second round, and battling past Andrey Rublev and John Isner in straight sets to move into the last eight. 

He hit just one ace against Isner in the fourth round, and served at only 52%, but he protected his serve brilliantly, winning over 75% of points on both his first and second serves. He also saved all three break points he faced, and converted one of his two opportunities against the big-serving American. Khachanov played a quality second-set tie break to finish off Isner 6-4 7-6, setting up Friday's meeting with Nadal.

He is now unbeaten in nine Masters 1000 matches, dating back to his success at last year’s Paris Masters. Can he make it 10 straight wins on Friday?

Nadal and Khachanov combined for one of the best matches of the 2018 season in the third round of the US Open; Nadal winning 5-7 7-5 7-6 7-6 to stretch his record against the Russian to 5-0. The Spaniard won the other four encounters in straight sets. If this match was played earlier in the season or even earlier in the tournament, I would not have hesitated in calling a Nadal win, given the state of Khachanov's play, but the Russian has finally joined the 2019 party, and represents genuine danger to Nadal's Indian Wells ambitions. To be fair, the great Spaniard has also been playing well, and particularly, serving well. He should once again be too good for Khachanov on Friday.

Rafael Nadal vs Karen Khachanov is live from Indian Wells on Friday, 15 March from 1:30pm local time/ 8:30pm GMT

*Geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify 

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Nadal vs Khachanov ATP Indian Wells Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal faces tough Khachanov test in Indian Wells quarters

Rafael Nadal takes on Karen Khachanov in the quarter finals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Friday. Will the Spaniard move past the big-hitting Russian? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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