Nadal Sets Semi-Final Clash With Federer At Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, March 16, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

So, in the end, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the last two men left standing in the bottom-half of the men’s singles draw at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Friday. But there were a couple of other takeaways apart from them squaring off for their 39th meeting against each other in the semi-final on Saturday.

But first let us look at the results itself. In the first match of the day, Federer battled through tricky conditions and an equally challenging opponent in Hubert Hurkacz to win in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Federer’s win meant that he became the oldest semi-finalist in the tournament since Arthur Ashe in 1976.

“I’m holding my serve comfortably. I’m in a good place mentally when I go into my service games, so I hope I can keep that up. You obviously need to against Rafa,” said Federer. “At this stage of the tournament, you have to bring your best game.”

The Swiss is defending finalist’s points from 2018 and his match-up against Nadal could prove to be tricky with both his recent and past results against the Spaniard being weighed upon ahead of the match.

Nadal worried about his knee ahead of showdown

However, all of this can happen only if Nadal is healthy enough to play the semifinal. This brings us to the result of the second quarterfinal, which Nadal won in straight sets against Karen Khachanov, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2), after coming from a break down in the first set. In the match, Nadal’s right knee gave him difficultly and required a trainer to tape it in the second set.

By his own admission, in the post-match press conference, Nadal feels that he would be in a better position to evaluate the state of knee on Saturday morning before committing one way or the other.

“Nobody can guarantee anything about what can happen the next day because, in this world, anything can happen. But of course my goal and my idea is be ready for tomorrow. Then happened what happened on court, so I cannot guarantee how I am going to wake up tomorrow morning,” Nadal told reporters after the match.

Beyond Indian Wells, too, Nadal’s injury flare-up has cast a doubt on his participation at the Miami Open, which begins next week.

Given the number of players who are currently recovering from injury, from Juan Martin del Potro to Kevin Anderson to Grigor Dimitrov and various others, Nadal being included in their ranks adds to the volatility in men’s tennis.