Nadal Beats Federer 6-4, 6-2

By MARK LAMPORT-STOKES

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Roger Federer’s title defense at the BNP Paribas Open came to a surprisingly abrupt halt on Thursday when he was hammered by his long-time rival Rafa Nadal 6-4 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

While Nadal’s fitness on hard courts had been in some doubt on his return to the ATP circuit after seven months out with an ankle injury, it was Federer’s troublesome back that proved the most significant factor as he was totally outplayed.

The four-times Indian Wells champion continually struggled to hold serve, was broken four times and made a slew of backhand errors against an opponent who moved well and controlled most of the rallies with deeper and more accurate groundstrokes.

“I was hanging in there in the first set so you always believe that with a good return game and I dug myself out of a couple of tough service games, that I could do it, you know,” Federer told reporters after losing to Nadal for a 19th time.

“The longer the match went on, I realized I had to change up my game. I played differently than I was hoping to be able to. Obviously he got more comfortable as the match went on, as well.

“Things became difficult. Obviously once I was down a set I knew it was going to be difficult. It (the back niggle) is obviously a small issue, and that doesn’t work against guys like Rafa.”

Federer, who had beaten claycourt specialist Nadal 6-3 6-4 in last year’s Indian Wells semi-final when they last met, said he had not been surprised by the Spaniard’s fluent movement about the court on Thursday.

“He’s not going to come back if he’s not well,” the 31-year-old Swiss said. “He’s not going to come back half broken. I expected him to tear through the clay. I expected him to be tough here, which he shows to be.”

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