INDIAN WELLS: The 39th match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal failed to materialise on Saturday as the world number two Spaniard hobbled out of Indian Wells to send Federer into a title clash with Dominic Thiem.
Nadal, whose longstanding right knee trouble flared up in his quarter-final victory over Karen Khachanov, couldn’t take the court for the blockbuster semi-final with Swiss great Federer.
“I warm up today in the morning, and I felt that my knee was not enough good to compete at the level that I need to compete,” Nadal said in a statement. “It’s tough for me to accept all these things that I’m going through in my career.”
Nadal said he would now return home to Mallorca and would not play in the upcoming Miami Open. He hopes to be ready for the Monte Carlo Masters, which begins on April 14.
Federer was warming up on another court at the same time as Nadal and figured the match was on. However, Nadal soon texted him it wasn’t going to happen.
“It’s a big letdown,” said Federer, who came on court in khaki shorts and a gray cardigan to address fans. “I know the anticipation is there from the crowd and also us players. I’m excited to be in the finals but not this way.”
Thiem, who is seeking his first title in one of the ATP’s prestigious Masters 1000 events, was rock-solid in a 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 victory over 14th-ranked Canadian Milos Raonic.
Thiem earned the only break of the third set in the fifth game. He led 5-3 and served it out, winning on his second match point with a backhand volley.
“The only break point I had to save was in the last game, and that was what I wanted to do, to play my service games well and not let him have too many chances,” Thiem said.
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2019