Th hard courts at the BNP Paribas Open are much slower than those at the 2017 Australian Open, so many anticipated the latest installment of the Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal rivalry to be much different from what took place less than two months ago Down Under.
In a way, it was.
Federer emerged victorious yet again, except this time he had things in cruise control from start to finish. The 18-time Grand Slam champion, who outlasted Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the Aussie Open final, thrashed the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3 in just one hour and eight minutes during fourth-round action at the Indian Wells Masters.
Capitalizing on four of five break-point opportunities, Federer seized control right away and never relinquished his stranglehold on the match. He broke for an immediate 1-0 lead in the first set and for a 2-1 advantage in the second, so Nadal was playing from behind all evening.
“For me, it was all about coming out and trying to play the way I did in Australia,” Federer commented. “I didn’t think it was going to be possible, to be quite honest, because the court is more jumpy here or more rough–so it’s hard to put the ball away. (But) when you serve well and stay on the offensive and you press, you can actually play some really good, aggressive tennis here.
“I was able to hold my serve and he couldn’t find a way how to get into my service games more frequently. (The) next thing you know, it’s all over. It was a really good performance by me.”
Nadal, meanwhile, was doomed by mediocre 59 percent serving. The fifth seed also failed to win more than 59 percent of his points on either first or second serve.
“In Australia (it) was a very close match,” Nadal assessed. “I had good chances to win. Today, (I did) not. Today he played better than me. I didn’t play my best match, and he played well…. (In) these kind of matches when you’re not playing your (best) match, (it) is impossible to win.”
The possibility of Federer lifting the Indian Wells trophy improved dramatically based on Wednesday’s result, but his draw does not get any easier. Next up for the 35-year-old Swiss when “Group of Death” action continues on Friday is Nick Kyrgios. The 21-year-old Australian upset Novak Djokovic for the second time in two attempts this season when he downed the world No. 2 6-4, 7-6(3) on Wednesday.