Federer breezes into Indian Wells semis

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to Karen Khachanov of Russia during the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells California

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are set to face off in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Saturday, March 16.

"If I don't see this match as special it's because I don't love this sport and I don't appreciate the story of this sport", Nadal said after reaching the semi-final showdown with a 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2) victory over Karen Khachanov.

Federer, who is looking to follow up his 100th title in Dubai last month, had a more comfortable outing in ending the run of young Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-4.

"The way we go about it is very different, yet we both find a way to excel", Federer said. "It's been quite a journey with Rafa side by side".

Federer trails Nadal in their head-to-head series, 23-15, but he's won their last five meetings and that adds a nice twist to the tale.

It was the first match between the pair and far from one-sided, as Hurkacz had two break points but could seize neither.

They have not met since Shanghai in 2017, the same year that Federer beat Nadal 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round at Indian Wells.

He also says he won't play again until the Monte-Carlo Masters clay event in mid-April. I am going to try my best to recover well and to be ready to enjoy one of these matches that I want to play against probably my biggest rival and at a later stage of our career.

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