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Federer Survives Wawrinka Tussle, Sets Nadal Blockbuster QF

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer improved to a 13-1 record over Stanislas Wawrinka.

World No. 2 Roger Federer set a blockbuster quarter-final clash with Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open after both survived pulsating fourth-round tussles on Wednesday night, in what was one of the greatest days in tournament history at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

It will be their first meeting for 12 months, since Federer beat the Spaniard in straight sets in the semi-finals in Indian Wells. The 26-year-old Nadal leads their career series 18-10. Both are bidding to win a record-breaking 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown this week.

Federer prevailed in a gripping tussle with Swiss countryman Stanislas Wawrinka, winning 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5 in two hours and 20 minutes. Federer served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but was broken to love as Wawrinka staged a spirited fightback. Wawrinka led 2-1 with a break in the third set, but could not consolidate and Federer ultimately got the decisive break in the 12th game.

"Today it was extremely close again. Okay, I should [have] maybe closed it out in the second set, but he did well to stay in it," Federer said. "At the end, I don't know what [got] me through. Maybe it's the experience or maybe [I was] a bit more calm in those moments. I'm not sure. Today I think I was a little lucky to come through it in the end."

The 31-year-old Federer improved to a 13-1 record over Wawrinka as he moved into the quarter-finals of this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the eighth time. The Basel native is bidding to win the title at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the fifth time, after victories in 2004-’06 and 2012.

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Wawrinka endured another heart-breaking loss in 2013. The 27 year old was beaten 12-10 in the fifth set of a five-hour contest with Novak Djokovic in the fourth round of the Australian Open and was on the losing side of a seven-hour doubles defeat on Davis Cup duty against Czech Republic. The right-hander, a runner-up at the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires, dropped to an 11-6 match record on the season.

"Today for sure I had some chances," said Wawrinka. "I had some opportunities, but I [could have] lost the match in two straight sets, too... I was close, but not enough, and that's why I need to still go practice and practice again."

Federer is chasing his first title of the season. The 17-time Grand Slam winner was beaten in the Australian Open semi-finals by Andy Murray and fell in the last four in Dubai to Tomas Berdych

NadalIn the last match of a very-late finishing day session, Nadal edged the in-form Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 33 minutes. The match finished at 9:47pm local time, with the evening session scheduled to have start at 7pm. 

"To win matches in days like today are more important that ever for me, and I'm very happy about what I did on court," said Nadal. "I'm happy about the attitude. With all the problems, I was able to keep being focused and keep winning."

Nadal won just two points more than Gulbis, breaking the Latvian decisively in the 11th game of the third set before serving out the victory to 30, finishing with a forehand winner. The defeat brought to an end Gulbis’ winning streak, which had seen him win the Delray Beach title and qualify into the Indian Wells main draw before powering into the fourth round.

"I was more aggressive. I went for my shots much more than him," Gulbis said. "But he did really incredibly well, as he always does, on the important points. It's really tough to beat the guy."

Nadal closed on his landmark 600th tour-level win, claiming his 597th win. After a seven-month injury lay-off, the Mallorcan returned with aplomb last month in the Latin America Golden Swing, winning the titles in Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian) and Acapulco (d. Ferrer) and finishing runner-up in Vina del Mar (l. to Zeballos). He is looking to win the Indian Wells title for the third time after triumphs in 2007 (d. Djokovic) and 2009 (d. Murray).

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