Rafael Nadal was visibly in pain during his straight-set win over Karen Khachanov in Indian Wells on Friday. Former British Davis Cup captain, and Gael Monfils' coach, Leon Smith praised Nadal's fighting spirit. “One thing that he reminded us of - we talked about how wonderful his forehand is and all his other qualities - his ability to go through pain.
That’s what he did throughout that second set, to just get on with it. I don’t believe that’s some terrible injury. To me it looks like again massive inflammation of the patella over the knee. Again it’s probably a case of having an injection and getting on with it again and playing through the pain tomorrow.
I remember Bjorn Borg one won of his Wimbledons with a torn stomach muscle and had an injection almost before every match. Nadal is like any other player, even with the hands or fingers all taped, it’s like Borg and their ability to go through immense pain."
Roger Federer, speaking of the differences between their game styles, said: “The way we go about it is very different, but yet we both find a way to excel. The way he came up was very clay-court based, and I was apparently very grass-court based, and we both found our ways on other surfaces…I think it all adds to the cool rivalry that we’ve had.
And then you add all the foundation stuff we have, promotional things we have done for the tour, political things, whatever it has been, it's been quite a journey with Rafa side by side”. Nadal eventually was forced to withdraw before his semi-final against Federer on Saturday. It would have been the 39th meeting between the two players.