Tournament favorites Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal moved to within one match of the Saturday semifinal at Indian Wells yesterday. Both won in awesome fashion under the bright desert sun.
Nadal was up first in a rare 11am match, but the early start didn’t bother the Spaniard who did lose his serve but really had no trouble against the Serb qualifier Filip Krajinovic in a 6-3, 6-4 win.
Federer was on later in the afternoon against Indian Wells challenger winner Kyle Edmund. In their first meeting, Federer jumped out quickly up 4-0 and never looked back rolling to a 6-1, 6-4 win.
“He didn’t have the best start, so that cost him the first set,” Federer said. “Second set, it was definitely better. I think he probably struggled throughout a little bit. He never really got going. Conditions are tough with the glare, and the jump of the ball is sometimes hard to find the rhythm and timing.
“Being able to belt the ball like he does needs either a good start or good conditions, and he didn’t quite find that. I’m sure I profited a little bit from it, but again, I was able to keep him uncomfortable throughout the match.”
Nadal will face off against the dangerous Karen Khachanov who after a slow start to the year is finding his footing. The big Russian edged John Isner 6-4, 7-6(1) to advance to his first Indian Wells quarterfinal.
Federer will meet the surprising 22-year-old Hubert Hurkacz who continued to score upsets. After stunning Kei Nishikori for a second time in three weeks, the Pole bounced Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday in three sets 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3.
“He’s also up and coming, so that’s fun,” Federer said of Hurkacz. “Kyle, the same thing. I have never played him before other than practice. It’s nice to see what they have in the matches and really get a sense how much more we will see of them. For me, at a top level, I like it that I’m not playing the same guys every single week.”
In the evening, Gael Monfils stretched his best start to a season to 15-3 after dominating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-0, 6-2.
Monfils will take on No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem who knocked down giant Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-3.
“The previous days here in Indian Wells helped me a lot to get back to my top level physically and also to play good tennis again,” Thiem said. “It was 11 days of good practice. That’s where I got my good feeling and my good tennis and also the good physical health back.”
2016 finalist Milos Raonic kept his hopes of returning to a fourth Indian Wells semifinal by upending Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-3.
Awaiting Raonic in today’s quarterfinals is 19-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic who earned a retirement from Yoshihito Nishioka. The young Japanese had to stop at the start of the second due to a back injury.
The 130rd-ranked Kecmanovic only got a spot in the draw when Kevin Anderson withdrew.
THURSDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STARTS AT 11:00 AM
Belinda Bencic  v Karolina Pliskova 
NOT BEFORE 1:00 PM
Milos Raonic  v Miomir Kecmanovic
NOT BEFORE 5:00 PM
Venus Williams v Angelique Kerber 
NOT BEFORE 7:00 PM
Gael Monfils  v Dominic Thiem 
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