Published: Wed, March 20, 2019
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Federer, Nadal on collision course in semis at Indian Wells

Federer, Nadal on collision course in semis at Indian Wells

"It's a pleasure to compete against Roger in this great final".

The other semifinal Saturday pairs Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem.

Nadal had made it to the last four of Indian Wells without dropping a set, so it was especially devastating when knee pain flared up during his 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2) quarter-final victory over Russian Karen Khachanov on Friday.

"The only break point I had to save was in the last game, and that was what I wanted to do, to play my service games well and not let him have too many chances", Thiem said.

"The game he broke me I didn't serve very well, so I think he took advantage of that fact", said Federer, who was not overly down about the defeat.

It was just two sets into his semifinal match against Juan Martin del Potro that he had to stop due to his knee acting up.

Thiem trailed 4-3 and 5-4 in the third set before breaking Federer with a forehand victor to go up 6-5.

Federer was gracious in defeat after falling in the final in the Southern California desert for a second consecutive year. I lost my last two Masters 1000 finals, but I won this one and it feels as nice as a grand slam. However, contrary to the 1st set, Roger had to save a couple of break points in the 6th and 10th game before winning the encounter 6-4 6-4 in 73 minutes.

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The Swiss fourth seed surged to a 6-3 first set lead in 37 minutes but Thiem fought back as Federer dropped his first set of this year's tournament, forcing a decider. "I had to get used to it".

But he was under attack early, saving three break points before succumbing on a fourth in the second game as Federer raced to a 3-0 lead.

"It sure is frustrating and disappointing and sad, to some extent, but I've been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly".

It's just the 5th time in Nadal's career he's conceded a walkover, and the first to Federer. "I came from a really bad form in all categories, and now I'm the champion of Indian Wells".

But baseline specialist Thiem kept his composure and levelled the match in the second, gaining traction by extending rallies and unleashing a torrent of high-kicking serves to keep Federer off balance.

"I felt like I'm playing good tennis".

"No pressure", Andreescu said, joking.

After saving two break points to hold and go up 2-1, Thiem forced the break of serve. "I feel like I'm actually playing good tennis".

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