Being placed in the same quarter of the BNP Paribas Open draw as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic would be enough to make any player queasy, but it wasn't his incredibly difficult draw that made Rafael Nadal feel ill as he prepared for this tournament.
Nadal, seeded fifth, didn't specify what had befallen him but he said Friday he's feeling better.
"I was a little bit sick for two days. I couldn't practice for two days. I started practicing [Thursday] for the first time and today I practiced again and have doubles," he said at a news conference. "It's obvious that when you get sick you lose a little bit of power for a couple of days, so I hope to recover myself good and feel myself ready to compete at the highest level possible."
But the Spaniard dodged a question about how he envisioned the draw might unfold. There's a possibility he and Federer could meet in the fourth round and rekindle memories of their emotional matchup in the Australian Open final, which Federer won in five sets. For now, Nadal said he's not looking beyond his opener, in which he will face Guido Pella of Argentina.
"If things go well," Nadal said, "we will have time to talk about the draw."
Good start for Fritz
Taylor Fritz, who lives in Palos Verdes and trains in Carson, had a feeling he would do well in this tournament. "I have been telling everyone this week, man, I think I have been playing my best tennis ever this week," the 19-year-old said.
He proved that Friday with a 6-3, 6-2 first-round victory over erratic Benoit Paire of France. "It was just a weird match, because the ankle or foot injury or issue he had in the beginning and then . . . sometimes he'd move really well, sometimes he wouldn't. Sometimes he would just double fault, sometimes he'd hit an ace," said Fritz, who next will face No. 6 Marin Cilic. "It was a lot of focusing on myself and trying to keep my level consistent and focus on what I needed to do."
The Rancho Santa Fe native has had a hectic year; he got married last summer and became a father in January. He credited his wife, Raquel, for taking on all of the childcare duties and allowing him to focus on tennis. "My dream is to just be the best tennis player I can possibly be. And I'm very fortunate to be with someone who shares the same dream as I do," he said.
In a second-round battle of Britons, 11th-seeded Johanna Konta defeated Heather Watson, 6-4, 6-4. No. 10 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine came back to beat Qiang Wang of China, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, to advance to the third round; No. 7 Garbine Muguruza of Spain advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, and No. 32 Roberta Vinci of Italy defeated American Madison Brengle, 7-6, 6-4. In an evening match, No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic outlasted Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Pliskova's twin sister, Krystina, defeated Daria Kasatkina of Russia, 6-0, 6-3.