The scariest moment of Rafael Nadal’s day didn’t happen on the tennis court.
The Spaniard experienced his first earthquake Monday morning at the BNP Paribas Open. The 9:55 a.m. quake had an estimated magnitude of 4.7, according to the California Institute of Technology’s seismological laboratory.
The epicenter was about 12 miles from the desert community of Anza, which is near Indian Wells, site of the combined men’s and women’s tennis tournament. It occurred before the day’s matches had begun, although the Indian Wells Tennis Garden was busy with fans and workers, many of whom said they felt a strong jolt.
Nadal was on the massage table preparing for his third-round match against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
”I was very scared,” he said. ”I think the massage table moves even worse.”
Nadal said his legs were wobbling and even though it was his first earthquake it took him ”probably a half-second” to realize what was happening.
After the excitement caused by the quake, Nadal didn’t even get to play his match. Mayer withdrew because of a back injury.
Nadal opened his bid for a third Indian Wells title with a two-set victory over American Ryan Harrison on Saturday, the Spaniard’s first hard-court match in nearly a year. He returned to the ATP Tour a month ago, winning two of three tournaments on clay after missing seven months because of a left knee injury.
Temperatures are forecast to soar into the 90s in the next few days, conditions that should favor Nadal.
”For me, for my knee, for my foot, for everything is better when the conditions are warmer,” he said. ”I love practicing and playing in days like today: no wind, fantastic weather, good, hot temperature.”
Nadal shared a friendly hit on Sunday with tournament owner Larry Ellison, the co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp. and one of the world’s wealthiest men.
”His backhand improve, especially a lot from last year, so that’s great,” Nadal said. ”It’s great what he’s doing for tennis and especially this tournament. He knows more about tennis I think than me.”
On the men’s side, No. 6 Tomas Berdych defeated 27th-seeded Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-1; Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis outlasted 20th-seeded Andreas Seppi, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to win his 13th consecutive match this season; and Kevin Anderson beat Jarkko Nieminen, 6-3, 6-1.
Gulbis takes on Nadal in the fourth round, a player that Gulbis has yet to beat in four matches.
”I believe that I can win,” Gulbis said. ”Yeah, I said it already.”
Among the women’s third-round winners Monday were No. 4 Angelique Kerber, No. 7 Sam Stosur, No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki, and No. 10 Nadia Petrova.
Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka was to play No. 28 seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium at night.
Kerber beat 30th-seeded Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 7-6 (4) after rallying from a 1-4 deficit in the second set. She and her coach were talking before the match when the quake hit.
”In the first moment we both were thinking, it’s like a subway here, but actually we are in the desert. No way that there is a subway,” Kerber said.
Stosur needed three sets to get by 32nd-seeded Shuai Peng of China, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2; and Wozniacki routed 29th-seeded Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-1. Petrova beat No. 21 seed Julia Georges, 6-1, 6-2 and Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza defeated Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-0.