Nadal sets up Federer date

BATTLING WIN: Rafael Nadal of Spain returns during his quarterfinal win over Karen Khachanov of Russia. AFP

Rafael Nadal withstood the challenge of Russian Karen Khachanov to set up a blockbuster semifinal with Roger Federer at the ATP Indian Wells Masters Friday despite a flare-up of right knee trouble that required mid-match treatment.

World number two Nadal, the highest seed left in the draw after the early ouster of No 1 Novak Djokovic, dominated both tiebreakers to beat the towering Russian 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2).

He booked a 39th career meeting with Federer, a five-time champion at Indian Wells who breezed past 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-4, 6-4.

Injury concern

"Hopefully I will be ready for it," said Nadal, who recovered an early break in the opening set and powered through the tiebreaker, but called for the trainer to have supportive tape applied below his right knee three games into the second.

"Of course my goal and my idea is to be ready for tomorrow," he said. Although he wasn't moving as well, Nadal gained the first break of the second set to lead 3-2, but was immediately broken himself.

He saved a set point in a fierce 10th game that went to deuce three times before Nadal held to make it 5-5. He couldn't convert a break chance in the 11th game as they went to another tiebreaker which the Spaniard again controlled.

"Well, I am used to play with some issues, so I just tried to be focused and to keep hold of the situation," said Nadal who has battled knee tendinitis and other injuries throughout his career. "It's one of these victories today that I'm really proud of."

Nadal will be gunning for a chance to claim a fourth Indian Wells title while Federer is seeking to break out of a tie with Djokovic with a record sixth.

Nadal leads the head-to-head rivalry with Federer 23-15, but Federer has won 11 of their 20 hard-court meetings, including their last five.

However, they haven't met since October of 2017, when Federer triumphed in straight sets in the final of the Shanghai Masters.

Kerber through 

Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber ended Belinda Bencic's 12-match WTA winning streak on Friday, beating the resurgent Swiss 6-4, 6-2 to set up a title clash with Bianca Andreescu.

Kerber, ranked eighth in the world, won the last three games to see off Bencic, who was coming off her first WTA title in four years at Dubai.

In Sunday's final Kerber will face 18-year-old Canadian sensation Andreescu, who beat sixth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

 

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Nadal sets up Federer date

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