(March 14, 2017)Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for the thirty-sixth time in their careers on Wednesday in the fourth round of the BNP Open. Both men won third round matches on Tuesday.
Nadal, a three-time winner, who last won the tournament in 2013, defeated fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5 for his 50th career match-win at Indian Wells.
Roger Federer survived American Steve Johnson 7-6(3), 7-6(4). The Swiss is a four-time winner of this event, last winning in 2012.
Nadal is 23-12 against Federer, 12-4 at ATP Masters 1000 events, 9-8 on hard courts and 1-1 at the BNP Paribas Open. Federer has never beaten Nadal three-times in a row.
Their last meeting came in late January when Federer won the Australian Open in five sets over Nadal. In their last meeting before this, Federer beat Nadal at the Swiss Indoors event in 2015.
Asked about how he feels about his next match, Federer said: “Very excited. I said it at the press conference in the beginning. That’s why I came here, play against guys like Rafa. Now we have it.
“I’m going to be excited now. Better be excited now. Otherwise I came for the wrong reasons.”
“Everyone felt different against Rafa,” he continued, “because sometimes you come in and you’re extremely tired. Sometimes it was, like you said, maybe you just lost three in a row, and you play often in quick succession at one point, as well.
“I mean, Australia helps me a little bit, but, you know, at the end of the day, I’m still in the comeback. And I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season. So regardless of Australia, winning or losing, I’m going to try to go out there and try to play free again. I think it’s really important.
“I’m really happy that I got my energy back, because in Dubai I was actually still quite tired. I feel like tomorrow if I move well, you know, I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.”
“Since the season started, I was playing well,” Nadal said. So I tried to play my game, tried to play aggressive.
“My goal was don’t let him play with his forehand from easy positions. And that’s what I tried. I started well the match. Then taked a while to have the break, but finally I had in the right game, in the 4-3, and I closed well.
“So in the second I started with the break, and then happened what happened with those two games. Then I was there again.
“So very pleased with my performance. And I won already two matches here.”
“Tomorrow another chance to go on court, and I’m going to try to play better than I did today.”
Asked about what makes Federer’s game so special, Nadal said: “Everything. Yeah, he has the talent to do very difficult things that looks easy, you know. He’s able to take the ball very early, serve and first shot. He create a lot of winners with that, two first shots, no?
“And then he’s able to take the ball always from inside, and he’s very quick going to the net. If you play short ball, then you know that he gonna go inside and gonna hit a winner, gonna play a shot that hit forehand or backhand, go to the net, and you are going to be in big trouble.”
In the night session, Novak Djokovic defeated Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the round of 16 where he’ll play Nick Kyrgios.
“It was difficult to overcome this challenge tonight,” Djokovic said during his on court interview. “The third was some of the best tennis I’ve played this year”
For the five-time desert champion, was his his 300th ATP Masters 1000 match victory. He is now tied with Pete Sampras for 10th in Open Era with 762 wins overall.
In other men’s action, No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori easily beat Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-2, American Donald Young upset 14th seed Lucas Pouille 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia survived big-serving American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
In a battle of generation next on the ATP World Tour, Nick Kyrgios beat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4.
“It was the worst match I played all year. It’s quite simple, ” said Zverev of the loss. “My serving was absolute horrible, my returning was absolutely horrible. From the baseline was horrible. There is not one thing I did well.”
“I wasn’t serving my best, so I thought I just competed well, said Kyrgios. “It was always going to be a tough match. He’s been playing great tennis and on the rise ever since juniors. I knew it was going to be tough.
“It was hot, but it wasn’t scorching. I think that suits my game style. I can get more bounce off my forehand.
“But, yeah, it was a tough battle. I’m just really glad to get through.”
American Jack Sock saved four match points to stop Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7).
— Greg Sharko (@SharkoTennis) March 15, 2017
More to follow…