A valuable rivalry will be reconnected to the BNP Paribas Open after Rafael Nadal exposed his signature snowcurd on Friday. The second-seeded dug deep to save a point in the second set and imposed in a quarterfinal match against 12th head, Karen Khachanov of Russia, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2).
"It's not every day that you play in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, so I just tried to be focused and give the best of myself," said Nadal. "I'm just happy to be in the semifinals. It's a beautiful thing for me and I'm happy with the way I played throughout the event. "
Nadal will face Roger Federer Saturday in the semifinals. The Spaniard leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head 23-15 series, but Federer has won two of his three wilderness clashes. The Swiss star also leads his rivalry on pitch 11-9 and has won his last five appearances on this surface.
"It's different styles, different ways of understanding the sport and, at the same time, two players who have good relationships after all that we have lived through our career and who are fighting for the most important things", said Nadal. "All of these things always make the matches really special between us. It's nice to have the chance to continue to compete at the highest level in the advanced rounds, in the most important events, at the end of a tennis career. "
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Nadal started Friday's game, leading his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Khachanov 5-0 and winning 12 of their 13 sets. But if all the players in Stage 1 expected Khachanov to cancel, he proved them wrong by winning a first-half setback and scoring an immediate break in the opening match.
The second seed showed a visible frustration with his early performance, but sank to 1-3 by winning 12 of the following 14 points. Nadal scored four points on Khachanov's serve at 4-5, but the Russian cleared them with an Ace, a pair of burgeoning first-serve services and a winning end. He then repelled a backhand volley winner and a midfield reverse winner to escape with a shot.
The set went to a tie-break and Nadal, as he does so often, found another speed. He got a mini-break with a forehand winner to lead 2/1 and converted his fifth set point to 6/2 with a solid smash to take advantage quickly.
While Khachanov led 2-1 in the second set, Nadal had to take a medical break for his right knee and was embarrassed. In order to preserve his knee, the Spaniard began to play more aggressively to shorten trade. The strategy gave Khachanov the advantage of giving the advantage to his team to lead 3-2, but the Russian quickly pulled himself together to beat Nadal at the next match.
Khachanov scored a point in Nadal's service at 4-5, but pushed a half-volley away. Once, they found themselves tied and that turned out to be identical to the first set. Sensing the urgency of the moment, Nadal has managed six of the last seven points to take in two hours and 16 minutes.