Indian Wells | Nadal and Federer to contest place in final
The blockbuster match between the two highest ranked remaining players at the Indian Wells Masters, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer has come about following their respective successes in contrasting quarter-final matches for a place in the last four.
"I just had to give my best and that's what I did, I'm very happy to be in the semi-finals. Rafa Nadal
Nadal withstood the powerful Russian Karen Khachanov and a troublesome knee but managed to win through on two tiebreak sets, claiming both breakers by 7-2 margins.
The Spaniard booked a 39th career meeting with Federer, a five-time champion at Indian Wells who in turn breezed past 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-4 6-4.
“Hopefully I will be ready for it,” said Nadal, who recovered an early break in the opening set and powered through the tiebreaker, only to call for the trainer for some supportive tape to be applied below his right knee three games into the second.
Despite being slightly hindered, Nadal gained the first break of the second set to lead 3-2 only to be broken himself.
The match could have gone to three sets had Khachanov been able to convert a set point in the tenth game which lasted some ten minutes and went three times to deuce.
With Nadal failing to grasp a break point in the eleventh, the tiebreak was required to settle the outcome and again, it was the world No.2 who dominated it to claim his allotted place in the semi-finals.
“I just had to give my best and that’s what I did,” said Nadal, who has battled tendinitis in his knees throughout his career. “I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals.”
For Khachanov it was his sixth defeat at the hands of the Spaniard.
Nadal will now be aiming to claim a fourth Indian Wells title while Federer is seeking to make it seven and pull ahead of Novak Djokovic.
The stats would favour Nadal who has won 23 matches with the Swiss against 15 losses, but Federer holds the advantage on hardcourts, winning 11 out of 20, including the last five.
More interestingly though, is it will be the first time the pair have met since October 2017, when Federer lifted the Shanghai Masters title at the Spaniard’s expense.
And Federer is not looking forward to the meeting.
“If I play Rafa there’s extra energy in the building – there’s always a lot on the line,” he said, adding that so much time has passed since their last meeting that his own current five-match winning streak is of little significance.
“I don’t think those five matches matter that much, to be honest. A lot of time has gone by.”
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion who captured his 100th career title in Dubai last month, overcame breezy conditions on stadium court to dominate Hubert Hurkacz, the 22-year-old Pole competing in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final and just the second quarter-final of his career.
One break in each set was all Federer needed to seal the win after an hour and 14 minutes.
“Overall I’m very pleased with that performance,” said Federer, who has reached the final four without dropping a set, winning 38 of his 39 service games.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m holding my serve comfortably, I’m in a good place mentally when I go into my service games. I think it showed this week thus far, so I hope I can keep that up.”