Rafael Nadal had to skip the second part of 2012 due to a knee injury, returning in February 2013 and winning titles in Sao Paulo and Acapulco on beloved clay to gain 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 Roger 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 both the first and second serve, dropping 16 points in nine service games and suffering one break from two chances offered to the Swiss.
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 offered 11 break opportunities to Rafa, getting broken four times to end his run in the quarter-final and propel the great rival into the last four.
They stayed neck and neck in the shortest points up to four strokes, and it was Nadal who ruled in the more extended ones, leaving Federer far behind in the mid-range exchanges to forge the victory and stay on the title course.
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 to get his name on the scoreboard. A service winner sent the Swiss 2-1 up, with the Spaniard repeating that in the next game to stay on the positive side.
Nadal created a break chance a couple of minutes later, 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, wasting two set points on the return in the next one before sealing the opener with a service winner in game ten 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 in game two to establish a set and a break lead.
A forehand down the line winner secured another break for Rafa in game three, ruling the court in those moments and taking significant steps towards the finish line. Federer pulled one break back in game four, with Nadal extending the gap to 4-2 thanks to a service winner, eager to defend that remaining break.
There was no need for that, though, as he broke Roger's serve again in game seven, sealing the deal with three winners at 5-2 to book the semi-final spot and earn a much-needed win after such a long break.