Indian Wells: Rafael Nadal withdraws from Roger Federer semi-final

Spain's Rafael Nadal receives treatment during his quarter-final victory over Karen Khachanov at the ATP Indian Wells Masters. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA  AFP  Sean M. Haffey

Nadal, who said he hoped and expected to be fit for a semi-final showdown with old foe Roger Federer on Saturday, wanted to be careful when asked if he thought playing on hard courts contributed to his history of injury.

The meeting between Nadal and Federer, bidding for his 101st career title, would have been their 39th and the first since 2017.

The Swiss master has also won two of the pair's three meetings in Indian Wells, but Nadal, who has won three titles at Indian Wells, will try to even the score. After spending two and a half hours on the court, the Canadian faced his first break point with a great forehand victor on Thiem's court, however with the Austrian, Dominic Thiem serving for the match Thiem closed out the match 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-4. "It's a special rivalry, maybe the most special with Rafa and Novak (Djokovic)".

The similar gameplay was emulated in the set second by the ATP men, but this time it was the 2016 Wimbledon finalist, Raonic who got hold of the set and pushed the nervy last four round of the Indian Wells 2019 into the deciding set.

Thiem has never won a Masters 1000 title, losing in two previous finals. They've split wins, with Federer winning both of their hardcourt matches and Thiem winning once each on grass and clay.

"We've had so many epic battles", Federer, 38, said. "He's at a higher level than he was at the Australian Open... especially in a place like Indian Wells, where he feels comfortable, he's clearly very tough to play".

"It's about what it means for me to have to pull out in a tournament that I love so much like this one, and in the semi-finals after playing well during the whole tournament".

He had ankle surgery in November, and only returned to training in December. "It's one of these victories today I'm really proud of", Nadal told reporters, declining to absolutely guarantee that he would be okay to play on Saturday.

"It is not about only today", Nadal said in an emotional press conference after announcing his decision. "You can imagine that I can't be happy".

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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