Nadal Beats Federer on Hard Court in Earliest Matchup Since 2004

Rafael Nadal beat defending champion Roger Federer in straight sets in the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals, the pair’s earliest matchup at a tennis tournament since beginning their rivalry nine years ago.

Nadal, the world No. 5 from Spain, beat the second-ranked Federer 6-4, 6-2 last night in Indian Wells, California, to lift his career record against the Swiss to 19-10. The victory also tied their meetings on hard courts at 6-6.

Since returning from a seven-month layoff because of a knee injury, Nadal has compiled a 15-1 record, including clay-court titles in Sao Paulo and Acapulco and finishing runner-up at his comeback event in Vina del Mar, Chile.

Last night’s encounter was the first in a year between Nadal and the 31-year-old Federer, who hold 28 Grand Slam singles titles between them. They first met in the third round of the Miami Masters in 2004.

While Nadal is seeing how his knees respond to the rigors of hard-court play for the first time, Federer also has had to nurse his way through the tournament after tweaking his back in a third-round victory against Ivan Dodig of Croatia.

Nadal, playing his first hard-court event in nearly 12 months, secured the lone break of the first set in the seventh game with a cross-court backhand pass. The Mallorcan broke twice to open a 3-0 lead in the second set and broke again for a 5-2 lead before closing out the victory in 84 minutes.

Nadal, 26, will face Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic tomorrow for a place in the final as he seeks his third title in Indian Wells. A year ago, Federer beat Nadal in the semifinals on his way to a fourth victory at the tournament.

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