Federer Beats Nadal To Reach Final
Indian Wells, U.S.A.
Fans in the Coachella Valley had long anticipated a Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer showdown, and needed to wait out an extra three hour delay when it rained shortly after the conclusion of the first semi-final between Novak Djokovic and John Isner.
When the pair finally took the court, Federer dismissed his rival 6-3, 6-4 to reach his fourth final in Indian Wells. The Swiss, a winner of three consecutive tournament titles from 2004-06, will play American title hope Isner on Sunday.
"Very happy that a tough week like this gives me an opportunity to win the tournament," said Federer. "Really it's unbelievable that I never thought I would come so far. It's been a great week so far, and it's another opportunity tomorrow to make it even more special. Obviously conditions were tough today, and against one of my greatest rivals, it's always nice if you come out on top, so I'm very, very happy."
Similar to his quarter-final match against Juan Martin del Potro a day earlier, Federer needed to save two break points in his first service game. He opened up a 3-0 lead, and though Nadal got back on serve in the fifth game, Federer broke for a second time to go up 5-3 and served out the set.
With the winds picking up, Federer broke Nadal at love in the third game of the second set. A Nadal double-fault from the same end of the court set up another break point for Federer, and the Swiss took advantage to go up 5-2. Nadal prevented Federer from serving out the match at the first time of asking, but could not hold him off a second time.
"I was feeling the ball great. I felt I'm ready to compete and ready to win the match, but later the crazy wind [made it ] very difficult for me to play with a clear tactic," Nadal admitted. "I lost court, I had more mistakes, and I think he played very aggressive. He played fantastic. His serve was with high percentage, and I wasn't able to play my usual tactic against him with that conditions. He hit the balls, every one inside the court, and the weather conditions makes the topspin more difficult for me."
The weather also contributed to an interesting conclusion to the match. A light rainfall halted play for a few minutes after Nadal netted a return to give Federer match point. As soon as the ball kids dried the lines, the Swiss wasted no time clinching the one hour, 31-minute victory, firing an ace to finish off his opponent. Federer now trails Nadal 10-18 in career meetings.
"He played a great game to come back into the match, and he played also a good game at 5-4," he said. "I knew it was going to be tough serving it out. Obviously there is a bit more relief on top of that with the wait, having to wait at 30/40. That was special in itself. I know how well I played tonight, so I'm just really pleased with my performance."
Federer, who won a record 250th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match on Friday, will now have an opportunity to tie Nadal’s record 19 Masters 1000 titles. He closed in on the Spaniard’s mark with his triumph at last November’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
The 30 year old leads the circuit with a 21-2 mark in 2012, and has won 38 of his past 40 matches since a semi-final exit at the US Open. His two losses came against Nadal in the Australian Open semi-finals and to Isner in Davis Cup action last month.
"I know how difficult it's going to be tomorrow," he said. "John is playing great tennis at the moment, and I'm sure for a long period of time. It's great and exciting for American tennis, and I'm happy it's happening in the final, this rematch for me. I look forward to that a lot."
Nadal was also attempting to reach his fourth Indian Wells final. He won the title in 2007 and ’09, and finished runner-up to Djokovic last year.
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