Roger Federer continued his recent run of success over Rafael Nadal on Wednesday, downing the Spaniard 6-3 6-2 in the last 16 at Indian Wells. In following up victories over Nadal in Basel in late 2015 and in this year’s Australian Open final, the Swiss has now recorded three consecutive wins over his old rival for the first time ever.
Indian Wells - Federer stretches winning run against Nadal
Roger Federer has had to wait a long time to enjoy sustained success against eternal foe Rafael Nadal. In overcoming the Spaniard in Basel in 2015, at this year’s Australian Open and now in Indian Wells, the Swiss has strung together three wins against him for the first time in a rivalry that now stretches back 36 matches. The latest of those victories was a commanding one, with Federer cruising home 6-3 6-2 in one hour and eight minutes. It was a good deal easier than the previous two, which both went to a final set.
“It’s a nice feeling to win the last three, I can tell you that,” said a smiling Federer. “All the matches that we have played are unique in many ways for both of us, winning or losing.” That feeling was made all the more pleasant for the Swiss by the fact that he trails 23-13 in the head-to-head with “Rafa”, who has won as many as five matches in a row against Federer.
The man from Basel produced some stunning and perfectly executed attacking tennis to win this 36th encounter between the two, picking up pretty much where he had left off in the Australian Open five weeks ago, and without quite so much physical exertion. Winning 76% of points on his first serve, the Swiss also ripped a string of superb forehand and backhand winners, among them the line-clipping return that sealed the match for him, delivering on his recent vow to be more aggressive in this aspect of his game. Faced with Federer at his very best, “Rafa” was never able to get into the match and struggled to keep pace with his opponent.
“I think it was always that he returned well,” acknowledged Nadal. “But at the same time, it was obvious that I didn’t have the right answer for his returns. I needed to neutralise the points. I needed to neutralise his two first balls, and I didn’t … I was not good enough tonight to make that happen and he deserved the victory, for sure.” The nine-time French Open champion also added his voice to the chorus of praise directed at the Swiss, highlighting the fact that this fourth-round meeting bore very little resemblance to their Australian clash at the start of the season.
Kyrgios takes Djokovic down again
“In Australia, it was a very close match. I had good chances to win. Today, not. Today he played better than me… These kind of matches, when you’re not playing your match, it is impossible to win. When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed.” The four-time Indian Wells winner is certainly relaxed. Will he stay that way against his next opponent, Nick Kyrgios?
Read more: Kyrgios - Zverev, rivals of the future?
The 21-year-old Australian, who won his only previous meeting with the Swiss (in Madrid in 2015), produced his big-hitting best to take Novak Djokovic down again, three weeks after beating him in Acapulco. In surging to a 6-4 7-6 victory completed in an hour and 52 minutes, the world No16 brought to an end the Serb’s 19-match winning streak at Indian Wells, which had yielded him three straight titles. “I’m very impressed him taking out Novak, back-to-back weeks, on Novak’s best surface,” commented Federer. “I hope it’s going to lead to something great for Nick, that he realises if he puts his head down and focuses that he can bring it, day in and day out, week in and week out.” The Swiss master would be more than happy for the bad boy of Australian tennis to wait just a little longer before maximising his potential, at least until after their quarter-final encounter is over.
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