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Nadal Impresses To Beat Federer In QFs; Faces Berdych Next

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal reached his fifth Indian Wells semi-final.

Two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Rafael Nadal put together a comprehensive performance to defeat long-time rival and defending titlist Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 in their quarter-final showdown on Thursday evening.

"I played a fantastic first set, in my opinion. The second set was strange," said Nadal. "The second set, I think Roger didn't fight as usual. He probably had some problems and he didn't feel enough comfortable to keep fighting. Both of us tried to play our best. I played much better than yesterday. My movements today were much, much better than yesterday, so I'm very happy for that, especially after a long match yesterday, to be able to compete well the next day."

Nadal avenged his semi-final loss to the Swiss a year ago at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and upped his FedEx Head2Head series with Federer to a 19-10 record. This marked the first time the two squared off this early in a regular tournament draw since 2004, when Nadal won their first meeting in the third round of the Sony Open Tennis in Miami.

The 26-year-old Nadal is through to his eighth consecutive semi-final in Indian Wells. He lifted trophies in 2007 (d. Djokovic) and 2009 (d. Murray). He and Federer are tied for the most ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns with 21. Nadal will face off against Tomas Berdych for a place in the final on Saturday.

With the loss, Federer could be overtaken by Andy Murray for No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings should Murray reach the final. Federer has been dealing with a back issue during the tournament, but did not use it as a reason for his defeat, having come through a three-setter a day earlier against compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.
 
“[It was the] same as against Stan. I mean, I could play,” said Federer. “I'm happy to be out there and able to compete. But it's obviously a small issue.”

Fifth seed Nadal pressed Federer's serve frequently in the first set by being the more aggressive player. After missing out on a break point chance at 2-3, the Spaniard broke the World No. 2 in the seventh game with a cross-court backhand pass. Trailing 3-5, Federer wiped away two set points on his serve before Nadal locked up the set on his fourth opportunity.

The Mallorcan opened a 3-0 double break lead in the second set, making the most of his trademark forehand when Federer approached the net. The crowd came alive when Federer reached break point for the first time in the fourth game and erupted when he broke to get on the scoreboard. But Nadal wasn’t fazed and he took advantage of uncharacteristic errors from Federer to convert his fourth break for a 5-2 lead. He closed out the victory in 84 minutes.

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