Djokovic and Nadal inch toward Indian Wells clash

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal began their paths toward a possible quarterfinal meeting at the BNP Paribas Open with straight-set victories Sunday.

A day after No. 1 Andy Murray was upset by 129th-ranked qualifier Vasek Pospisil, the second-seeded Djokovic won his opening match at the hard court tournament 6-4, 7-6 (5) against Kyle Edmund of Britain, while the fifth-seeded Nadal beat Guido Pella of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic and Nadal are in a tough section of the draw that also includes 18-time Grand Slam champion and ninth-seeded Roger Federer, who was scheduled to face Stephane Robert of France late Sunday night. Nadal could meet longtime rival Federer in the fourth round.

Djokovic has won the trophy at Indian Wells a total of five times, Federer four, and Nadal three.

In other matches Sunday, No. 4 Kei Nishikori topped Dan Evans 6-3, 6-4 and No. 12 Grigor Dimitrov eliminated Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-0.

In women’s third-round action, 17-year-old American wild-card entry Kayla Day nearly pulled off a major upset but eventually lost to reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.


IDITAROD: A father and son are battling for the race lead in Alaska. Mitch Seavey, a two-time champion, was the first musher out of the checkpoint in the village of Kaltag on Sunday, leaving at 4:40 a.m. His son, current champ Dallas Seavey, departed five minutes later.

Dallas Seavey has won four of the past five races. He is a third generation musher who grew up helping his dad train his racing teams, according to the Iditarod’s website.

Mitch Seavey finished in second place behind Dallas the past two years.

The winner is expected early this week in the town of Nome, along Alaska’s frozen Bering Sea coast.


INDYCAR: Sebastien Bourdais pulled off a major upset by driving from last place to win the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.

An offseason move to the small Dale Coyne Racing team paid off immediately for Bourdais. A problem in qualifying meant he started last in the 21-car field, but it made no difference. He earned his 36th victory, breaking a tie with Bobby Unser for sixth on IndyCar’s career win list. It was the fifth win for Coyne.

Simon Pagenaud finished second, almost 10 seconds behind.


MLS: Josef Martinez had three goals, Miguel Almiron scored twice and Atlanta United spoiled fellow expansion club Minnesota United’s snowy home opener with a 6-1 win.

David Villa scored two goals and newcomers Rodney Wallace and Maxi Moralez also scored in a 4-0 win for host New York City FC to overshadow 2016 Hermann Trophy winner Ian Harkes’ MLS debut for D.C. United.

FA CUP: Son Heung-min recorded a hat trick to propel Tottenham to a 6-0 rout of third-tier Millwall in London in the cup quarterfinals.

The South Korean made it six goals in four FA Cup games this season.

Tottenham lost Harry Kane, after he twisted his right ankle in the 10th minute.

PREMIER LEAGUE: Liverpool came from behind to for a 2-1 home victory against Burnley. Emre Can struck the winner from distance with around 30 minutes remaining to put Liverpool a point behind Tottenham and Manchester City and 11 back of leader Chelsea.

– Staff and news service report