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ROGER FEDERER

Nadal thrashes hurt Federer at Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal took another step in his return from injury with a convincing victory over a hurting Roger Federer on Thursday in the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells Masters.

Nadal thrashes hurt Federer at Indian Wells
Nadal's comeback from injury is well under way. Photo:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America/AFP

Nadal broke Federer three times in the second set en route to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who has been nursing a nagging back injury.

"I don't think Roger was 100 percent tonight," said Nadal, who nevertheless said the win over his great rival was a key step in his comeback from a seven-month absence while rehabilitating his damaged left knee.

"It was an important win for me," he said. "They all are now."

Nadal, the former world number one and winner of 11 Grand Slam titles, returned in February and notched one runner-up finish and two titles in a three-tournament Latin American clay-court swing.

But he hadn't tested his knee on hard courts since pulling out of the Miami Masters last March. He's the fifth seed in a field led by world number one Novak Djokovic, which also includes third-ranked Scot Andy Murray and second seed and 2012 champion Federer.

Nadal improved to 19-10 against Federer in a rivalry stretching back to 2004, which has included some epic clashes on the game's biggest stages. The pair had not met since the Indian Wells semi-final last year.

Nadal kept the pressure on Federer's serve in the opening set and earned the only break he needed in the seventh game for a 4-3 lead.

He secured the set with a service winner on his fourth set point.

In the second set he made effective use of his forehand and sped to a 3-0 lead with two breaks of serve.

Federer regained a break in the fourth game — his first opportunity of the match — but an uncharacteristic number of errors kept him from making further inroads and Nadal wrapped up the victory after one hour and 24 minutes when Federer netted a backhand.

"I played a fantastic first set," Nadal said. "The second set was strange. The second set I think Roger didn't fight as usual. Probably he had some problems and he didn't feel enough comfortable to keep fighting."

Nadal said he was encouraged by an improvement in his movement on the court, which he said was better than in his fourth-round win over Ernests Gulbis.

"I played much better than yesterday," he said. "So very happy, especially after a long match yesterday, to be able to compete well the next day."

Federer, meanwhile, said that while he clawed out a victory over Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round despite his aching back, Nadal had been too good.

"It's obviously a small issue," Federer said of the back trouble that he has received treatment for throughout the tournament. "That doesn't work against a guy like Rafa."

Federer now heads into a break of several weeks. He had already said he would not play the Miami Masters starting next week and currently plans to return at the Madrid Masters in May.

Nadal advanced to a semi-final showdown with sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over South African Kevin Anderson.

Berdych has reached the semi-finals without dropping a set and said his run in the first Masters tournament of the year was a morale booster.

"It feels great," the 27-year-old said. "It's the first Masters of the year, it's very important for me for the confidence."

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ROGER FEDERER

Ten years on, Nadal looks back on ’emotional’ Wimbledon win over Federer

Ten years after out-duelling Roger Federer to win the greatest Wimbledon final, Rafael Nadal returns to the All England Club still basking in the warm glow of that epic encounter.

Ten years on, Nadal looks back on 'emotional' Wimbledon win over Federer
Spain's Rafael Nadal holds his trophy after defeating Switzerland's Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon championships. PHOTO: LEWIS WHYLD / POOL / AFP
After losing to Federer in successive Wimbledon finals, Nadal finally got the better of the Swiss star in a thrilling 2008 clash many regard as the finest ever to grace the hallowed Centre Court.
 
Nadal's 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (8/10), 9-7 victory was a defining moment for the Spaniard as it gave him a first Grand Slam crown away from his favoured clay at the French Open. The match marked the high point of a captivating rivalry between Nadal and Federer that played a huge role in tennis's resurgence as a multi-million-pound business.
 
For Nadal, the significance was far more personal. Aware of how important it was to legitimise himself by beating Federer at Wimbledon, Nadal went on to win on hard courts at the Australian and US Opens and emerged as one of the sport's all-time greats.
 
Nadal, now with 17 major titles on his CV, has arrived for next week's Wimbledon with the anniversary of his finest moment sparking happy memories.
 
“Of course in that moment, that final has been a very important step forward for me in my career,” he told a press conference at Wimbledon on Saturday. “I always have been very clear that it probably is one of the most emotional matches that I played in my career.”
 
“Yeah, everybody knows that for me to win here was one of my dreams,” Nadal continued. “After losing two finals, that final created a big impact in my tennis career. The personal satisfaction that tournament give to me is difficult to compare with other things. But, yes, it has been great.”
 
Nadal went onto win Wimbledon again in 2010 before a host of injury problems forced him to take a step back. He is back on top of the ATP rankings after winning an 11th French Open in June.
 
'I'm still here'
 
Asked what has changed since that golden evening against Federer, the 32-year-old said: “I'm older, more kilometres under my legs. In general terms, important things in life didn't change much. That's the real thing. 
 
“In terms of tennis, of course I had to adapt a little bit my game during that period of time. Today I see that final like a long time ago. But the good thing is I still here. I am happy for that.”
 
Nadal has won three of the last five Grand Slams, taking the French Open two years in a row and lifting the US Open trophy in 2017. Despite his strong form at Wimbledon in the first half of his career, Nadal hasn't been past the last 16 since 2011 after a series of shock defeats against players outside the top 100.
 
Nadal admits it is difficult for his aching knees to transition from clay to grass, but insists he can make a strong challenge for Federer's title over the next fortnight.
 
“Expectations are always high. I am not here to play the tournament; I am here to try to have a good result,” said Nadal, who opens against Israel's Dudi Sela in the first round.
 
“But it's true this is one of these events that you arrive here and you really don't have the previous feeling of how you feel, how you are playing. 
 
“It's nothing new; even when I won here, when I played five finals in a row. It's an event that you need to find your confidence during the tournament and during the practice the week before.
 
“For example, when I arrive to Roland Garros, I know more or less if I am playing well. I know where my chances are. In the US Open, little bit less, but still better than here.”
 
By AFP's Steven Griffiths