California -Three-time champion Roger Federer and twice winner Rafa Nadal won their
quarter-final matches at the Indian Wells ATP tournament on Friday to set
up an enticing last four showdown.
Federer booked his place in the semi-finals with a ruthless 6-3 6-2
victory over big-serving Juan Martin Del Potroof Argentina before Nadal
fought back to beat David Nalbandian, also of Argentina, 4-6 7-5 6-4.
Saturday's other semifinal will pit Serbian world No 1 Novak Djokovic
against 11th-seeded American John Isner, both players having advanced on
Second seed Nadal was delighted to scrape through, saving two break
points in a gripping 10th game of the third set before sealing victory
with a forehand drop shot to end an absorbing baseline rally.
Nalbandian, on the run, sent his attempted backhand return well wide and
Nadal punched the air in delight as the stadium court erupted after a
riveting encounter lasting two hours, 39 minutes.
"It was a very difficult match for me," the second-seeded Spaniard said
in a courtside interview after almost blowing a 5-2 lead in the final
"I started a little bit more nervous than usual against a tough player
like David. He's beaten me a few times in the past so it was a very
important victory for me.
"I am very excited to be back here," added left-hander Nadal, who has
reached the semifinals in his last seven attempts at Indian Wells.
Nadal will face Federer for a 28th time in Saturday's semi-finals, but it will be their first ever meeting at Indian Wells.
"I am playing probably against the best (player) in history," said the
Spaniard, who holds an 18-9 career advantage over the Swiss.
"And because I played probably the most important matches in my career
against him and probably him against me, that's why it makes the match a
little bit more special than the rest."
Federer agreed: "I have had some great matches with him all around the
world by now. He has such great movement that this is a court that works
well for him. I would expect a difficult match."
Nalbandian, whose last victory over Nadal came at the 2007 Masters
Series event in Paris, broke the Spaniard in the 10th game of the match
when he hit a searing forehand winner down the line to take the opening
It was the first set Nadal had dropped in the tournament, having breezed
through his first three matches for the loss of just 14 games at the
The second set went with serve until Nalbandian was broken in the 11th
game after netting an attempted backhand drop shot to trail 30-40 and
then double-faulting. Nadal comfortably held serve to level the match.
The Spaniard seized control in the third set, breaking the Argentinian in the first and seventh games to lead 5-2.
Nadal was then broken while serving for the match in the eighth,
squandered a match point in the ninth and finally sealed victory on his
second opportunity after an absorbing 10th game.
Swiss world No 3 Federer broke ninth seed Del Potro once in the opening
set and twice in the second to wrap up his win in just over an hour at
the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Federer, who powered down 13 aces in a one-sided match, completed his
fifth successive straight-sets victory over the tall Argentine when his
opponent netted a forehand service return.
"This was for me a really good match against a great player," the
16-times grand slam champion said after beating Del Potro for the fourth
time this season.
"I'm happy I was happy to maintain the great streak I've got going
against him this year. He's a top-10 player, a very dangerous player."
Federer, who had battled flu and a temperature to beat his first three
opponents at Indian Wells, has won 37 of his 39 matches since last
year's US Open.