Fedal Part 39 at BNP Paribas Open
Federer and Nadal will play for the 39th time in the BNP Paribas Open men’s semis on Saturday.
Federer has the edge in this head to head, winning their last five matches, going back to Basel ’15. Since then, Federer beat Nadal four times in 2017- at the Australian Open, in Indian Wells, in Miami and in Shanghai.
Those wins have cut down Federer’s deficit in the Fedal rivalry, which now stands at 23-15 in Nadal’s favor.
It’s likely that this upcoming match will cut Federer’s shortfall even further to 16-23.
Nadal looked troubled by his knee in a shaky but engaging match versus Karen Khachanov, the Russian’s inexperience rendering him unable to fully capitalize on his opponent’s hampered physical state. Still, where Nadal was not lacking was in mental strength, holding up under the pressure Khachanov did put him under and taking the match 7-6, 7-6.
Federer’s journey to the last four was a little less troubling, the Swiss overcoming Herbert Hurcacz 6-4, 6-4.
Fedal Part 39 will be hyped, this is after all the rivalry to beat all tennis rivalries, but it will unlikely deliver the goods that we’ve been treated to in some of their past matches, the ’17 Australian Open final the most recent example. Federer has proven to be too good for Nadal on hard courts since that match and even though Nadal has revamped his game on hard, when he’s come up against highly skilled hard courters (Djokovic in Melbourne; Kyrgios in Acapulco), he come’s up, like his ground strokes in his wilderness years, a little short.
Nevertheless, the tension and sense of occasion when these two meet and watching the head to head numbers pan out later on in their careers, numbers which will be tossed about post Fedal like tennis balls in the Indian Wells wind, make this episode in the rivalry the 39th one to watch.
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