Nadal Earns Confidence Boost, Starts Indian Wells Title Quest

Rafael Nadal to meet Fernando Verdasco in the third round

Rafael Nadal got a confidence boosting victory on Sunday as he opened his campaign at the BNP Paribas Open.

The fourth seed and three-time champion saved 11 of 14 break points to beat fellow left-hander Gilles Muller 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 14 minutes for a place in the third round. It was their fifth meeting, and their first since the 2011 US Open.

"[I'm] very happy for the victory after my last three matches that I've lost have been in three sets or five sets," said Nadal, after his ninth match win of the season. "So I needed a victory like this. I was very happy about my attitude. [It] was a great victory for me."

Nadal is now 45-8 in Indian Wells, including titles in 2007, 2009 and 2013. A winner of 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, he will next face Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco. Although Nadal has a 14-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head record, Verdasco won their last match over five sets in this year's Australian Open first round.

"I need to play better in the next match," said Nadal. "I play against a tough opponent [Verdasco]. He beat me in Australia this year."

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