Nada, a three-time Indian Wells champion, saved five set points in the tiebreaker and finally closed it out on his second match point when Verdasco’s backhand sailed beyond the baseline.
In the last few years, Verdasco has had the upper hand against Nadal, his doubles partner and a fellow Spaniard, having won three of their previous four matches, including a five-setter in the first round of the Australian Open in January after Nadal beat him 13 straight times to start the rivalry.
Serena Williams and four-time champion Novak Djokovic were to play in later matches.
Verdasco owned triple set point in the second set, but frittered away his advantage with consecutive errant forehands and could only stab in the air as Nadal’s cross-court backhand whizzed by to tie it 6-all.
Verdasco’s backhand error set up Nadal’s first match point, and his first serve was called out, but he successfully challenged it, and the review showed it ticked the line, tying it 7-all.
It was tied twice more before Verdasco’s double fault gave Nadal a second match point, and it ended on another error. Verdasco had 19 winners, just one more than Nadal. He averaged 115 mph on his first serve to 108 for Nadal.
Nadal advanced to the fourth round against Alexander Zverev, who beat 16th-seeded Gilles Simon, 6-2, 6-2. No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori edged Steve Johnson, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6), and next plays another American, John Isner, who beat Adrian Mannarino, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
In another all-Spanish match, Feliciano Lopez outlasted Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-4. Dominic Thiem earned his ATP Tour-leading 22nd win of the year, beating Jack Sock, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1.
In women’s fourth-round matches, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated 2010 winner Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 6-3, and Petra Kvitova defeated qualifier Nicole Gibbs, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Defending champion Simona Halep advanced when Barbora Strycova retired trailing 6-3, 1-0 because of illness. (Courtesy ESPN)