By Chris Oddo | Wednesday March 15, 2017
Roger Federer rolled past Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells to reach set a quarterfinal clash with Nick Kyrgios.
Photo Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty
Roger Federer produced another pitch-perfect performance against his longtime rival and nemesis Rafael Nadal, earning a third consecutive win against the Spaniard for the first time in their storied 13-years-long rivalry, 6-2, 6-3.
More: Kyrgios Dethrones Nadal at Indian Wells
Federer’s victory, his 13th over Nadal in their 36 lifetime meetings, sets up a quarterfinal clash with Aussie Nick Kyrgios. The 21-year-old shocked Novak Djokovic earlier on Wednesday, defeating for a second consecutive time.
The Aussie now owns a 4-1 lifetime edge over Federer, Nadal and Djokovic combined—he defeated Federer in their lone meeting at Madrid in 2015.
But he’ll face a Federer that is high on confidence in the quarterfinals. The Swiss won his 18th major title this January when he defeated Nadal in a five-set final, and he picked up where he left off on Wednesday, penetrating the defense of the Spaniard with precise and aggressive groundstrokes from both wings.
When it was over he seemed a bit surprised by just how well the match went.
"For me, it was all about coming out and trying to play the way I did in Australia," Federer said. "I didn't think it was going to be that possible, to be quite honest, because the court is more jumpy here or more rough, let's say, so it's hard to put the ball away."
Federer broke in the very first game of the match to set the tone, and did not relent. Several minutes later when he struck a backhand return winner that Nadal could not even bother to chase, he was up a double-break and 5-1. He served the set out, finishing with six backhand winners to none for Nadal and saving the only break point he faced.
In set two Federer moved ahead quickly when he struck an inside-out forehand winner for a break and a 2-1 lead.
A few games later he would earn a pair of match points and make them pay off immediately by crushing another backhand return winner that left Nadal shaking his head in amazement. The Spaniard didn’t bother to challenge, and replays later showed that the shot landed on a piece of both lines.
"Today he played better than me," Nadal said. "I didn't play my best match, and he played well. These kind of matches, when you're not playing your match, is impossible to win."
Federer finished with 26 winners to just 10 for Nadal. 36 percent of his serves were unreturnable, compared to just 16 percent of Nadal’s.