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Nadal Sets SF Showdown With Federer

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal reaches the Indian Wells semi-finals for a seventh straight year.

Two-time champion Rafael Nadal set up a blockbuster semi-final with Roger Federer at the BNP Paribas Open after battling past Argentine David Nalbandian 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Friday afternoon in Indian Wells.

Nadal and Federer will be colliding for the first time in singles action at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, but for the 28th time overall. The Spaniard holds an 18-9 record against Federer in the career series, including a win in their most recent meeting two months ago in the Australian Open semi-finals.

"They’re always special matches, especially because they’re always in very important matches for both of us," said Nadal. "That always makes the match very special. But even if it's not the final, being in the semi-finals is an important match. 

"Playing against Roger always means a little bit more than against the rest of the opponents because I am playing probably against the best of the history, and because I played probably the most important matches of my career against him and probably him against me. That's why it makes the match a little bit more special than the rest."

Nadal dropped his first set of the tournament when Nalbandian broke his serve with a winner down the line and came within two points of defeat at 5-4, 15/30 for the Argentine in the second set.

The momentum swung in his favour in the following game. Nalbandian double-faulted to hand Nadal his first break, and the World No. 2 took advantage, serving out the set and breaking again to begin the third.

Nadal opened up a 5-2 lead, but Nalbandian recovered one break and threatened to draw level with two break point chances in the 10th game. The Spaniard stepped up to win the final four points, closing the match with a drop shot after two hours and 39 minutes.

"Couple of mistakes by him, and I played a good game at 6-5 to close the second set," assessed Nadal. "It was a change. I think I started the third well. He looked a little bit more tired, but the end of the match was close again. With the 5-4 and 15/40 the match was there, very close, and anything can happen."

The 25-year-old Mallorcan reached the Indian Wells semi-finals for a seventh straight time. He won the title in 2007 and ’09, and finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year.

Federer won his quarter-final match in contrasting fashion earlier Friday, clipping World No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2 in 69 minutes.

This is the 23rd time that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all advanced to the semi-finals of a tour-level event.

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