It’s a repeat of the Australian Open final
When the Indian Wells Masters 1000 draw was made it threw Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in the same half which meant that two of the superstars of the game would be clashing at the quarter-final stage.
I think it’s a great thing for tennis, and it’s exciting for Rafa and me,"
And so it has come to pass and more intriguingly, it features a repeat of this yearÈs Australian Open final which saw Federer win his 18th grand slam title at the expense of Nadal in a five set classic.
"I think it’s a great thing for tennis, and it’s exciting for Rafa and me," Federer, a four-time Indian Wells winner, said of the 36 meeting between the two since their rivalry began in 2004. "It’s a tough draw, but rankings are not the priority for both of us.
The winner should then go and meet Djokovic for a place in the final where it was expected Andy Murray would be waiting. Unfortunately, the Briton fell in his opening match.
Three-time Indian Wells champion Nadal was the first to claim his place in the last eight when he bet fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3 7-5.
The Spanish star was satisfied with his performance despite some shaky moments at the start. "I played a good match — very aggressive with my serve, serving well, hitting good forehands, good backhands.
"I think I played much better today than the first day. I played two horrible games, terrible. That’s it. For the rest of the match I think I played very well."
Federer found himself embroiled in a tougher contest but survived 7-6(3) 7-6(4) against American Steve Johnson.
Neither player lost his serve but Swiss star had four chances which he was unable to convert but was pleased he didnÈt have to save any break points himself.
"I was very happy how I played because I thought he played a really good match," said Federer later.
Five-time and defending champion Djokovic had to play his best tennis to get past ArgentinaÈs Juan Martin del Potro, a player who has the game to beat all the Big Four.
The Serb won 7-5 4-6 6-1 after two hours and 18-minutes to record his 300th Masters victory and become only the third player behind Federer and Nadal to reach that landmark.
He found it hard going in the first two sets but his vein of good form to run away with it in the decider, which he believed was "probably the best tennis I’ve played this year".
He added: "Obviously against delPo, who has a big serve, to be able to break him two times in a set was great and I’m just hoping I can carry this confidence level, especially on the return, to the next match,"
He next faces AustraliaÈs Nick Kyrgios, who stunned the Serb star in their first ever meeting a few weeks ago in Acapulco, after defeating Germany’s Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-4.
Also through is fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan who advanced to the fourth round with a 6-2 6-2 win over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, where he will face the unseeded American Donald Young, who ousted 14th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France 6-4 1-6 6-3.
American Jack Sock saved four match points in a 3-6 6-3 7-6(7) win over Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and will play Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, a 6-4 3-6,6-3 winner over 19-year-old American Taylor Fritz.
In the womenÈs draw, Elena Vesnina caused the upset of the day when she ousted the second seed Angelique Kerber who will replace Serena Williams at the top of the rankings at the end of the event. Williams pulled out with a knee injury on the eve of the tournament.
The Russian, better known as a doubles specialist, beat Kerber 6-3 6-3 and will take on Venus William in a last eight showdown.
"I think I played a really good match," Vesnina said. "I was a little nervous at the end of the match. So I’m really happy that I closed that match."
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams, the 12th seed, recovered from a slow start to grind down China’s Peng Shuai 3-6 6-1 6-3.
"There were some up-and-downs and errors," Williams admitted. "But I feel like I got my focus more in that second set and towards the end of the third."
World number three Karolina Pliskova advanced to the last eight after 15th seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland retired from their match while trailing 5-1 in the first set.
The Czech will face reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, a 7-6(5) 1-6, 6-0 winner over in-form Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
Caroline Wozniacki, the 13th seed and 2011 champion, reached the quarters with a 6-4 6-4 victory over ninth-seeded American Madison Keys. The Dane will meet Kristina Mladenovic of France, who beat American Lauren Davis 6-3 6-3.
Also through is the eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, 31, with a 6-1 6-4 win over Caroline Garcia of France and will compete in an all-Russian quarter-final against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who pulled off the second upset of the day when she beat the fifth seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4 3-6 6-2.