Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal compete in the BNP Paribas Open for the fourth time in the FedEx ATP Head2Head series on Saturday when they meet in the semifinals.
Federer won two encounters of three pairs in the Indian Wells, but the three-time champion Nadal will even try their rivalry in the desert. ATPTour.com looks at the first three of three desert confrontations:
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Roger & Rafa: Every game ever played
2012 Semifinals: Federer Def. Nadal 6-3, 6-4
For the first time since 2003, Federer reached India Wells out of the top two ATP Rankings. In 2011, Switzerland did not capture the Grand Slam title for the first time since 2002. And less than two months before this match, Nadal defeated Federer in the semi-Australian Open. The pressure was on Federer to earn a big win.
Federer went off to a perfect start at BNP Paribas in their semi-finals, storming to a 3-0 lead to set the tone for the game. While Nadal struggled hard, the Swiss was too strong a day, breaking World No. 2 to serve four times to advance to the finals.
"I felt good about my game, I guess I had a mentality not to lose," Federer said. "I did not feel great this week, I did not expect myself to play so well tonight, and that is sometimes when you can pull out the greatest victories of your career, so I'm glad I gave myself a chance last week."
Federer lost a team in the third round against 21-year-old Milos Raonic and another fourth round against Thomaz Bellucci. But he was able to summon his best tennis against Nadal to win after one hour and 32 minutes on a stormy day.
"He played great, his servant was with a high percentage, and I was not able to play the usual tactic against him under the same conditions," Nadal said. "I tried, I fought until the last ball, I lost against a player who played better today than I did."
Federer has not picked up the Indian Wells trophy since his third straight capture in 2006. But the Swiss continued to defeat the most beloved home of John Isner in the final to win his fourth five titles in the desert.
2013 Quarterfinals: Nadal def. Federer 6-4, 6-2
After the semi-finals of the 2012 semi-finals in India Wells, the legends have not met again until BNP next year Paribas opened. This was in part due to Nadal not competing after losing his second round at Wimbledon because of knee inflammation.
Nadal, who began in February 2013 by playing three court events, won 12 out of 13 games that led to India Wells. And while this was his first tournament in court this year, you would not know by watching him play, squeaking by Ernestes Gulbis in a thriller of three set that lasted more than two and a half hours to reach the quarter-final against Federer.
World No. 5 celebrated the second to serve the Swiss, winning 70 percent of these points. Nadal earned 11 break points and converted four times.
"Two weeks ago I did not know if I could be here, and tomorrow I'll be in the semifinals," Nadal said. "A lot of positive energy, and [I’m] very happy."
Federer struggled a little with a back injury, so Nadal knew to win the first set will be the key. The Swiss rejected two static points on their own serve at 3-5, before Nadal held close to the opener, and that was all the momentum he needed.
"I played a fantastic set first," Nadal said. "The first act was a good match, in my opinion, we both tried to play as best we could, I played much better than yesterday, my movements today were much, much better than yesterday [I’m] Very happy for that. "
This victory served as a springboard for Nadal, who will continue to beat Tomas Berdiche Juan Martin del Potro to pick up the third trophy in Wells Wells. Nadal won 10 league titles in 2013, the second in his career, and will return to the top spot in the ATP rankings.
2017 Round Round: Federer def. Nadal 6-2, 6-3
Federer and Nadal did not meet for more than a year when they clashed in the 2017 final Australian Open, a five-set classic that saw Federer return to foreign glory in the Grand Slam.
But less than two months later, they were on the network for the third time in Huddian Wells, meeting in the fourth round. It was the first time they played before the quarterfinals of any event since their first FedEx ATP Head2 match 13 years earlier in the third round in Miami.
While their battle in Melbourne was nail-bitters, Federer was in control from the start to Indian Wells. The 35-year-old was aggressive – hitting on the back of his hand with authority – to keep Nadal on the back foot. A huge backhand winner gave him the double break in the first set and eventually finished the opener in 34 minutes.
"It was all about going out and trying to play like I did in Australia, I did not think it would be possible to be honest, because the court is more bouncy here or more rugged, so it's hard to put the ball away," Federer said. "As soon as I got the break in the second set, you obviously had to be very careful that you did not get a double break, I was able to keep my servants, and he could not figure out how to enter my service games more often. Really good ".