For the first time in his career, Roger Federer has beaten Rafael Nadal three times in a row.
The latest victory, a 6-2 6-3 thumping at Indian Wells in just 68 minutes, sends Federer through to the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals where he will face Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios earlier on Wednesday send No.2 seed Novak Djokovic out of the tournament in straight sets.
“It’s a nice feeling to win the last three. I can tell you that,” Federer said.
“But most importantly, I won Australia. That was big for me. On the comeback, I look back at that and think that was one of the coolest things I ever experienced in my career. Basel (in 2015) was special, too, for many reasons.
“All the matches that we have played are unique in many ways for both of us, winning or losing. So I take it.
“Obviously can’t celebrate too long this time around. I have to get back to work in a couple of days.”
Federer’s victory over Nadal in the Australian Open 2017 final was notable for the potency of his backhand.
It was a similar story on Wednesday in the Californian desert.
“For me, it was all about coming out and trying to play the way I did in Australia. I didn’t think it was going to be that possible, to be quite honest, because the court is more jumpy here or more rough, let’s say, so it’s hard to put the ball away,” Federer said.
“So getting in the lead was crucial, and then staying on the offense and pressing was the goal for me.
“Once I got the break in the second set … I was able to hold my serve, and he couldn’t find a way how to get into my service games more frequently. Next thing you know, it’s all over.
“It was a really good performance by me, I thought.”
Hitting his one-hander crisply and with depth, Federer forced Nadal to work hard on serve in the very first game – and then broke him.
Saving a break point in the next game, Federer surged ahead 4-1 when he took a high backhand and drilled it down the line for a return winner and a second service break.
Serving a few games later, Federer smacked three forehand winners and then volleyed into the open court to pocket the opening set.
The pace of the contest was extraordinary; with Federer playing first-strike tennis and rushing the Spaniard – who is famous for ambling through matches at a much slower rate – it was suddenly 6-2 4-2 in Federer’s favour in just 58 minutes.
Three games later, Nadal was serving to stay in the match, yet Federer’s backhand return again came to the fore.
He swiped it for a winner – landing at the intersection of the baseline and sideline – to cap an emphatic performance with a flourish.
“He returned well. But at the same time, it was obvious that I didn’t have the right answer for his returns, no? I needed to neutralise the points. I needed to neutralise his two first balls, and I didn’t,” Nadal lamented.
“So then playing (the first) two shots, he’s better than me today. And five years ago, ten years ago, always was better than me. I was a little bit better than him in general when I neutralised the first two shots, and then I can manage it a little bit better the point, no?
“So I was not enough good tonight to make that happen, and he deserved the victory, for sure. Very easy.”
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