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Nadal vs Federer ATP Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - Federer sets sights on sixth straight win over Nadal in semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 16 Mar 2019
  • Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer is live from Indian Wells on Saturday around 12.30pm local time (7.30pm GMT)
  • Nadal leads their head-to-head 23-15, but Federer has won their last five meetings (all on hardcourt)
Roger Federer (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Roger Federer targets his sixth straight win over great rival Rafael Nadal when the two titans of tennis clash in the Indian Wells Masters semi-finals on Saturday.

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Another chapter will be written in one of the greatest rivalries tennis has ever seen on Saturday at Indian Wells as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal square off for the 39th time for a spot in the final. Nadal had dominated the head-to-head against Federer for the bulk of their respective careers and still leads 23-15, but the Swiss has pegged him back in recent years, winning their last five meetings - all of which have come on hardcourt, including a fourth round clash at Indian Wells in 2017. In fact, Nadal hasn’t beaten Federer since the 2014 Australian Open semi-finals and hasn’t taken a set off him in their last three encounters. Add in a possible knee injury sustained during the semi-finals on Friday, and it appears Nadal could be staring down the barrel of another defeat on Saturday…

But back to Federer for the time being. The 37-year-old, fresh off claiming his 100th career singles title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships a couple of weeks ago, has continued his winning momentum into the Indian Wells Masters, advancing into the semi-finals (for the 12th time) without relinquishing a set. I didn’t think Federer played anywhere near his best in Dubai - he was stretched to three sets by Philip Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco and battled past Marton Fucsovics - before raising his level for Borna Coric and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semis and final, but he’s looked much smoother and polished in the Californian desert, recording routine victories over Peter Gojowczyk, Stan Wawrinka, Kyle Edmund and Hubert Hurkacz over the last week.

Since a brief second set wobble in his opening match against Gojowczyk, Federer hasn’t been broken in his next three matches, not facing a break point against Wawrinka, saving all seven he faced against Edmund and eliminating two against Hurkacz in Friday’s quarter-final clash, winning 84 per cent of his first serve points against the Polish youngster as he emerged victorious by a 6-4 6-4 scoreline.

"At this stage of the tournament, you have to bring your best game," Federer said. "I'm very excited to be in the semis here. Not that I didn't expect it, but it definitely went better than I thought it would."

Federer is looking to win a record sixth Indian Wells title this week (he was runner-up to Juan Martin del Potro last year) and secure a first Masters 1000 crown since lifting the 2017 Shanghai trophy. The Swiss won three straight Indian Wells titles from 2004-06 but didn’t make it back to the final until securing a fourth trophy in 2012. He would go on to finish runner-up three more times in 2014, 2015 and 2018, along with capturing his fifth crown when he beat Wawrinka in the 2017 showpiece.

The 37-year-old suffered a number of uncharacteristic losses last year - most notably against Thanasi Kokkinakis in Miami, Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon and John Millman at the U.S. Open - and that trend continued into 2019 when he went down to Tsitsipas in the Australian Open fourth round, but for the time being, Federer is on a nine-match winning streak, carries confidence in an undefeated stretch against Nadal dating back five years and would face either Milos Raonic or Dominic Thiem in the Indian Wells final if he makes it to the title match. He’s in a nice place right now, but that could all change if he doesn’t bring his ‘A Game’ to the court on Saturday.

Rafael Nadal (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
As mentioned, Nadal appears to be suffering from a right knee injury, but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the years, it’s you can never count the Spanish sensation out. Nadal also hasn’t dropped a set on his way to the Indian Wells semi-finals, breezing past Jared Donaldson, Diego Schwartzman and Filip Krajinovic, but he encountered a couple of problems against resurgent Paris Masters champion Karen Khachanov in Friday’s quarter-finals, winning a very high quality opening set in a tiebreak before sustaining a problem to his right knee, calling the trainer for assistance. The pair traded breaks before playing out another tiebreak, where Nadal raised his level to complete the 7-6(2) 7-6(2) win. However, some comments from Nadal post-match weren’t the most encouraging when looking ahead to Saturday’s semi-final…

“It’s not every day you get to play a quarter-final in Indian Wells, so I just tried to be focused and give my best,” said Nadal. “I’m just happy to be in the semi-finals. It’s a beautiful thing for me and I’m happy with the way I’ve played the whole event.”

If the injury is serious and restricts Nadal from playing his best tennis (or perhaps even taking to court), then it will be shame. The 32-year-old has struggled to get fit for hardcourts over the last couple of years, basically retiring or withdrawing from every tournament he played on the surface last season apart from the Canada Masters, while he also pulled out of Brisbane to start 2019. However, he played his best hardcourt tennis in years at the Australian Open as he made the final without dropping a set, only to be thwarted by an unstoppable Novak Djokovic.

You’ve got to wonder, considering his recent losses to Federer on hardcourt and his woes on the surface in general over the last two years, what version of Nadal will turn up on Saturday - or if he even takes to court at all. Federer is 11-9 on hardcourt over Nadal now, and will be licking his lips at facing him again, especially if his movement is hindered. Taking into consideration their recent matches on the surface and Nadal’s dodgy right knee, Federer should be on course for a sixth straight win over Nadal and a return to the Indian Wells final.

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Nadal vs Federer ATP Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - Federer sets sights on sixth straight win over Nadal in semi-finals

Roger Federer targets his sixth straight win over great rival Rafael Nadal when the two titans of tennis clash in the Indian Wells Masters semi-finals on Saturday.

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