Indian Wells Flashback: Rafael Nadal tops Roger Federer in their first QF clash

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Indian Wells Flashback: Rafael Nadal tops Roger Federer in their first QF clash

Rafael Nadal skipped the second part of the 2012 season due to a knee injury. The Spaniard returned to action in February 2013 and claimed titles in Sao Paulo and Acapulco on beloved clay, gaining momentum ahead of the season's first Masters 1000 event.

A former Indian Wells champion made a strong start in the desert, beating Ernests Gulbis in a challenging fourth round to set the quarter-final clash against Roger Federer, their 29th on the Tour and the first in that round!

The Spaniard proved to be the player to beat in Indian Wells that year, ousting the Swiss 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 25 minutes and advancing into the eighth straight semi-final at this event! Nadal earned the 19th victory over Federer after delivering better numbers on the first and second serve, dropping 16 points in nine service games and suffering one break from two chances offered to his great rival.

On the other hand, Roger was way below his usual level, spraying 30 unforced errors and losing half of the points in his games to offer 11 break opportunities to Rafa. The Spaniard delivered four return games to control the scoreboard and remain on the title course.

They stayed neck and neck in the shortest points up to four strokes, and Nadal ruled the more extended ones. He left Federer far behind in the mid-range exchanges to beat him for the 19th time and extend his great return after an injury.

Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in Indian Wells 2013.

Roger forced Rafa's error to hold after deuce in the first game before Nadal leveled the score at 1-1 with an ace. A service winner sent the Swiss 2-1 up, and the Spaniard repeated that in the next one.

A couple of minutes later, Nadal created a break chance, denied by an ace from Federer, who brought the game home to move 3-2 in front. Leaving that opportunity behind, Rafa held at love in game six and drew first blood with a backhand crosscourt winner that sent him 4-3 ahead.

Another backhand winner cemented the Spaniard's break in game eight. He wasted two set points on the return at 5-3 before sealing the opener with a service winner on his serve for 6-4 after 46 minutes. Carried by this momentum, Nadal broke Federer at love in the second set's first game and held at love with an unreturned serve to establish a set and a break lead.

A forehand down the line winner secured another break for Rafa in game three, flying over the court in those moments and taking significant steps towards the finish line. Federer pulled one break back in game four before Nadal extended the gap to 4-2 thanks to a service winner.

The Spaniard broke the Swiss again in game seven to extend the advantage and emerged at the top with three winners at 5-2 to book the semi-final spot and earn a much-needed win after such a long break.