Roger Federer produced a scintillating display as he defeated long-time rival Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
Victory marks the first time he has defeated Nadal three times in a row in 36 Head2Head meetings. They were facing each other for the second time this year, just six weeks on from their five-set battle in the Australian Open final.
"It's a nice feeling to win the last three. I can tell you that," said Federer. "After the Australian hype, to play here in America right away, all of them are very special.
"All the matches that we have played are unique in many ways for both of us, winning or losing. So I take it. Obviously can't celebrate too long this time around. I have to get back to work in a couple of days."
The Swiss, a four-time champion at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, advances to a meeting with Nick Kyrgios, after the Australian ended Novak Djokovic’s 19-match winning run at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"I'm very impressed him taking out Novak, back-to-back weeks, on Novak's best surface," said Federer. "I hope it's going to lead to something great for Nick. That he realizes if he puts his head down and focuses that he can bring it day in and day out, week in and week out.
"That's maybe going to take a bit more time, but just that he can run through tournaments, that's why he can win tournaments, because when it matters the most against the best and in finals, he's there. Eventually he will need that, but that's a great quality to have already now."
Channeling the game plan, which reaped the ultimate reward Down Under in January, Federer came out of the blocks in a hurry. The Swiss ninth seed secured the opener 6-2, consistently finding his mark coming over the backhand to keep the Spaniard on the back foot.
Federer brought up a break point in the opening game, breaking when Nadal shanked a forehand into the stands for 1-0. He survived a break point and steadied to hold with a sublime backhand winner down the line for 2-0.
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The Swiss continued to deliver off the backhand wing, his fifth of the first set followed by an explosive wrong-footing forehand winner to bring up a break point on the Spaniard’s serve at 3-1. Forced to raise his level, Nadal ripped an angled forehand crosscourt to draw the backhand error from Federer but it was short reprieve.
The Swiss secured the double break off a return winner for 4-1 after 23 minutes.
Federer closed out the opening set in style, threading back-to-back forehand winners to bring up two set points and sealing it on his first with a serve-volley winner 6-2 after 34 minutes.
Determined to make a statement he would not go quietly, Nadal started the second set with authority, holding to love with a forehand winner and an ace out wide for 1-0. Federer’s aggression continued to gnaw at Nadal, however. His confidence surged further when he broke early for 2-1.
Red-lining at 3-1, the Swiss struck a backhand winner down the line to bring up 15/30, but the fifth seed stemmed the flow, holding for 2-3. The pressure remained relentless, however, from the 35 year old Swiss. He held to love for 4-2 off an ace out wide and drawing the error with a looping backhand to change up the quick-fire pace.
Nadal was rarely in control of a point and when serving to stay in the match, a forehand clipped the net and failed to trickle over handing Federer two match points. He took it on his first with a crisp backhand return winner into the corner.
"In Australia it was a very close match," said Nadal. "I had good chances to win. Today, not. Today he played better than me. I didn't play my best match, and he played well. These kind of matches, when you're not playing your match, are impossible to win.
"When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he's able to play much more relaxed. The worst thing in that match for me was from the beginning I was at a disadvantage [with him] breaking the first game of the match, and then breaking the second game of the second set. That's so difficult to play against Roger this way."
Federer is bidding to win his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and first in Indian Wells since 2012 (d. Isner).