Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer Enter Indian Wells Third Round

Rafael Nadal did his part to set up a fourth-round clash with Roger Federer at the ATP Indian Wells Masters on Tuesday, powering past Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5.

Federer, who beat Nadal in a five-set thriller to lift his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open six weeks ago, faced American Steve Johnson later Tuesday for a chance to set up the rematch.

Federer did it the hard way at the Australian Open, rallying from a break down in the fifth set against Nadal, and took time off following a grueling fortnight where he played in three five-set matches.

With Kei Nishikori, Juan Martin Del Potro and Nick Kyrgios also in the same quarter, a tough path awaits Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, only one of whom will make the semi-final stage. And I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season.

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"I think I played very well in the first set", Djokovic said. I think that's the most incredible thing about his game.

The last time the duo met this early in a draw was their very first encounter back in 2004, in the third round of the Miami Masters, when Nadal, who was 17-year-old then introduced his matador's mentality to top-ranked Federer in the form of a 6-3, 6-3 upset.

He's drawn in the so-called "quarter of death" that also features second-seeded Novak Djokovic, the three-time defending champion and five-time overall Indian Wells victor, along with four-time champion Roger Federer.

World number two Novak Djokovic also claimed a straight sets win but his was far from comfortable against Great Britain's Kyle Edmund as the Serbian won 6-4, 7-6.

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Djokovic is trying to get back to the winner's circle after a shock second-round exit at the Australian Open and a quarter-final loss to Kyrgios in Acapulco. "Yesterday probably Andy didn't play his best match and Vasek served very well".

"I guess I'm one of the wolves going up now", Djokovic said Thursday. Besides Nadal and Federer, two of Rafa's compatriots-Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez-are still competing.

In earlier matches, unseeded American Donald Young beat French 14th seed Lucas Pouille 6-4 1-6 6-3 in the men's draw. "Only thing we can do to avoid that is be in higher position of the ranking".

Elsewhere, 11th-seeded Johanna Konta was edged by No. 21 Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1), two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat No. 26 Roberta Vinci 6-2, 2-6, 6-1, and No. 15 Timea Bacsinszky defeated No. 18 Kiki Bertens 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8).

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