World number one and defending champion Rafael Nadal held off determined Radek Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday to reach the third round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters.
Nadal, who had won all six of his prior encounters with the talented Czech, appeared to have gained control of this one when he won the second set with a single service break and broke again to open the third set.
But Stepanek immediately broke back, and Nadal had to save three break points in the sixth game to stay on terms before finally gaining the decisive break in the 11th game and serving out the victory after an hour and 24 minutes.
Radek Stepanek, a former top-10 player now ranked 50th, fired 12 aces in the match, while Nadal overcame eight double faults with just two aces.
Nadal next faces Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 winner over American Tim Smyczek.