RAFAEL Nadal cruised to a 6-4 6-2 win over Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The fifth seed recently returned from seven months out with knee problems but showed no signs of discomfort as he dismantled his old rival in their first meeting in a year, booking a last-four clash with Tomas Berdych. Indeed, if there were any injury questions they were aimed at Federer, who suffered a back twinge earlier in the tournament and did not appear to be moving freely.
World No 2 Federer saved a break point in game five with an ace, but could not repeat the feat two games later when Nadal came from 40-15 down and sealed the break when he easily passed the advancing Swiss. Federer held on when, for the third service game in a row, he was in trouble, forcing Nadal to serve the set out at 5-4. But there was little he could do to hurt the serve of the Spaniard, who took the first set in dominant fashion.
There was more of the same as Nadal broke to love at the start of the second set and with Federer not looking comfortable and seemingly losing interest, the Spaniard increased his advantage to 3-0.
But the Swiss finally broke the Nadal serve to get on the board at 3-1, then made it two games in a row.
Federer saved two break points in his next service game but succumbed the third time to make it 5-2 with Nadal serving for the match, and he did so to 15 to complete a comprehensive victory, improving his record against his rival to 19-10. Sixth seed Berdych, meanwhile, beat South African Kevin Andertson 6-4 6-4.
In the women’s matches, top seed Victoria Azarenka was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury, sending Caroline Wozniacki into the semi-finals as neither scheduled women’s singles match made it on court. Angelique Kerber advanced thanks to seventh-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur’s calf problem.