Why Injured Nadal may not play against Roger Federer in Indian Wells

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reach semis showdown: Enjoy it while you can

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reach semis showdown: Enjoy it while you can

There was a shadow hanging over the blockbuster showdown however, after oft-injured Nadal needed treatment to have supportive tape applied to his right knee in his victory over Khachanov. It was obvious that Nadal's movement was hampered. Nadal said he hoped to be ready to battle again with Federer, but with a pragmatism born of hard experience he couldn't help but hedge. "The way he came up was very clay-court based, and I was apparently very grass-court based, and we both found our ways also on the other surface", Federer said.

Knee problems have dogged the 32-year-old Spaniard for years, and they cut short his 2018 season after the U.S. Open in September.

Nadal choked up discussing his withdrawal last fall, and he appeared near tears on Saturday. Sometimes I feel sad because I'm in a disadvantage to all my opponents.

Then he gathered himself, saying, "It's not the moment to complain much".

The year began promisingly enough.

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Nadal had enjoyed a dominant week at Indian Wells, reaching the semi-finals without dropping a set.

"Still tough because I felt more or less OK during this beginning of the season in terms of my knee", he said.

Khachanov, ranked 13th in the world, saved three set points at 5-4 as he fought to force a tie-break. Twenty-four of those have been in finals, Nadal winning 14.

Federer, meanwhile, broke Pole Hubert Hurkacz once in each set for a 6-4 6-4 win in the first career meeting between the pair and was perhaps more bothered by his early start.

Federer will therefore advance to the final with a walkover and face Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic.

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