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Nadal likely to open in Indian Wells against Korda, Sinner also in same section of draw

Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal carries a 15-0 record on the season into the BNP Paribas Open. Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal and Sebastian Korda practiced together at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday afternoon.

It probably won’t happen again.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a productive session. Rather, when the draw ceremony was held later on Tuesday it set up a second-round showdown between Nadal and Korda if the 21-year-old American wins his opening match against a qualifier.

It would be the second head-to-head meeting between the two competitors. They previously faced each other at the 2020 French Open, where Nadal rolled to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 fourth-round victory. It was then that the tennis world learned of Korda’s idolization of the Spaniard.

“He’s my biggest idol,” Korda said following that loss at Roland Garros. “He’s one of the reasons I play tennis. Just watching him play, [he is an] unbelievable competitor. Just from him I have the never-give-up mentality. Whenever I’m on court, I try to be like him. Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy.”

Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook

Nadal has had good things to say about Korda, as well.

“[His game has a] good physical look, good serve, good shots from the baseline,” the 21-time Grand Slam champion assessed. “I think he’s a great guy, (and a) complete player. He has a lot of things to do in the next years in our sport.

“I think I always believed since I saw him play that he is going to have the chance to be one of the best players of the world. Let’s see. It’s always the same. I think he has all the things that he needs to definitely be a top guy. Of course, things are not easy and you need to keep improving. But I definitely believe, if you ask me, he (is) going to be a great one.”

Nobody has been greater than Nadal in 2022. The 35-year-old is off to a 15-0 start, with titles at an ATP 250 in Melbourne, the Australian Open, and the recent 500-point event in Acapulco. Now he is bidding for a fourth triumph in Indian Wells, having previously lifted the trophy in 2007, 2009, and 2013.

If Nadal gets past either Korda or a qualifier, his road through the second quarter of he draw could also include Dan Evans in the third round, Denis Shapovalov in the fourth, and either Casper Ruud or Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals. World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev is a potential semifinal opponent.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.