INDIAN WELLS, California, March 11 Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have coped with the crushing pressure of grand slam finals and held their nerve with Olympic medals at stake, but both were left rattled at the BNP Paribas Open on Monday after an earthquake rocked the California desert.
The magnitude 4.7 quake struck deep beneath a mountain range shortly before 10 a.m. PDT (1700 GMT) about 22 miles south of the resort community of Palm Springs.
"It was quite scary for a second there," Swiss world number two Federer told reporters after easing past Croatia's Ivan Dodig 6-3 6-1 in the third round of the elite event at nearby Indian Wells. "Today was the first time I ever felt one.
"For the first few seconds I wasn't sure what was happening. I ran outside. I was at the house and I didn't know how long it was going to last, if it was going to get worse from there, or if the worst was already past.
"Thank God my family wasn't in the house. They were outside somewhere. It was a very strange feeling to have, because you see the windows shaking and you look up and realize you're under a structure."
Automated sensors initially reported the quake as a flurry of three tremors in rapid succession at magnitudes of 5.1 or higher, but seismic strength was quickly downgraded to between 4.6 and 4.7 before scientists determined that only a single quake of that size had actually occurred.
"I was very scared," Spaniard Nadal, a twice champion at Indian Wells, said after he was handed a place in the last 16 when Argentina's Leonardo Mayer withdrew with a back injury before the start of their match.
"First time in my life. I was on the massage table preparing for my warm-up. I think the massage table moves even more. I finish the earthquake, and my legs were like this," he grinned while wobbling his legs.
Fourth-seeded German Angelique Kerber initially thought a subway train had triggered the tremors, until she realized what was happening.
"I was talking with my coach in the garden and everything was shaking," the German left-hander said after beating Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1 7-6 in the third round of the WTA event.
"In the first moment we both were thinking, you know, it's like a subway here, but actually we are in the desert. No way that there is a subway. I felt it. That was my first one." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)