Federer-Nadal didn't happen, but don't sleep on Federer-Thiem

Heather Diaz
March 17, 2019

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the ATP event at Indian Wells with a knee injury to allow Roger Federer to advance to the final, where he will meet Austrian Dominic Thiem.

Federer and Nadal were set for their 39th meeting, the Spaniard having won 23 times to his great rival's 15, although the Swiss has triumphed in their past five encounters.

"If I play Rafa there's extra energy in the building - there's always a lot on the line", he said.

The Swiss great has won the last five in the series, but says that's of little significance now that it has been nearly a year and a half since their last meeting in the Shanghai Masters final in October 2017.

There was a shadow hanging over the blockbuster showdown however, after oft-injured Nadal needed treatment to have supportive tape applied to his right knee in his victory over Khachanov.

"For me it is not about today only", the world number two said.

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Nadal isn't sure how severe the injury but has no doubt that he'll be ready for the Monte-Carlo Masters, beginning April 13.

Thiem might have been in for a more straightforward day had he converted his break point early in the second set but Raonic fought back and won two points on his opponent's serve in the tie-break to force a decider. "With all this stuff, I still where I am today".

Federer has not claimed a Masters title since his Shanghai success over Nadal and the fourth seed has lost just once this season - his fourth round defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open.

The year began promisingly enough. He's ranked No. 2 in the world and has a match record of 11-2. "Now it starts the process that I have to decide what direction we have to take to recover well and to recover as soon as possible".

Federer, who defeated Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals, feels the same, saying the contrast in styles and personality between himself and Nadal lend spice to their history.

"My goal is to play on all the surfaces", he said. Comedian Jon Lovitz served as chair umpire.

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