No. 9 seed Roger Federer dominated No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 on a Wednesday that saw the quarterfinals set at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
It was the first time the Swiss beat Nadal three times in a row in their 36-match head-to-head. Nadal now hasn’t beaten Federer since the 2014 Aussie Open semis.
“It’s a nice feeling to win the last three, I can tell you that,” said Federer, who left fans wondering if his backhand was better than his forehand in a stunning display.
And, he reminded everyone, he won the lone Grand Slam title of 2017.
“But most importantly, I won Australia. That was big for me. On the comeback, I look back at that and think that was one of the coolest things I ever experienced in my career.”
Nadal agreed that it just wasn’t his day.
“In Australia it was a very close match,” said Nadal. “I had good chances to win. Today, not. Today he played better than me. I didn’t play my best match, and he played well. These kind of matches, when you’re not playing your match, are impossible to win.
“When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed. The worst thing in that match for me was from the beginning I was at a disadvantage [with him] breaking the first game of the match, and then breaking the second game of the second set. That’s so difficult to play against Roger this way.”
Federer in the quarters will meet No. 15 seed Nick Kyrgios, who increased his bragging rights when he beat No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-6(3) for the second time in three week, increasing his career head-to-head over the Serb to 2-0.
“Just wasn’t managing to get a lot of balls back on his serve, first and second, as well,” said Djokovic, who saw a 19-win run in Indian Wells come to an end. “That’s what made a difference. He obviously comes out playing his style, very aggressive, and just going for every serve, whether it’s first or second. It’s obviously very hard to play like that.”
Elsewhere No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori and No. 17 Jack Sock set a meeting, with the Japanese downing American Donald Young 6-2, 6-4, and the American outlasting Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5.
No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 8 Dominic Thiem booked a backhand extraordinaire encounter after the Austrian beat No. 10 seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, and the Swiss tamed Japanese riser Yoshihito Nishioka 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).
Another quarterfinal will be a clay-on-hardcourts all-Pablo meeting as No. 27 Pablo Cuevas will face No. 21 Pablo Carreno. The 31-year-old Cuevas is through to his first Masters-level quarterfinals in his 14-year career.
Cuevas upset No. 11 David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, while Carreno topped Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5).
Thursday in Indian Wells will see the quarterfinals (27) Cuevas vs. (21) Carreno, and (3) Wawrinka vs. (8) Thiem.
INDIAN WELLS THURSDAY SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
WTA –  C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs  K. Mladenovic (FRA)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP –  P. Carreno Busta (ESP) vs  P. Cuevas (URU)
Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA –  V. Williams (USA) vs  E. Vesnina (RUS)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP –  S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs  D. Thiem (AUT)
ATP –  R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs G. Muller (LUX) / S. Querrey (USA)
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