Rafael Nadal hopes to be ready for 'special' Roger Federer clash

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

Rafael Nadal hopes to be ready for 'special' Roger Federer clash

After a year and a half, the tennis fans had the chances to see another chapter of the fantastic rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after both tennis legends managed to qualify for the semifinal in Indian Wells.

After 38 career meetings, Nadal leads the series 23-15, but Federer holds a slight 11-9 advantage on hardcourts.

He played flawless tennis against Raonic, a player he'd never taken a set from until Saturday, and didn't face a break point until the final game of the match. The first semifinal begins at 2 p.m. EST.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion who captured his 100th career title at Dubai last month, overcame breezy conditions on stadium court and a hungry Hurkacz - a 22-year-old ranked 67th in the world who was playing in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final and just the second quarter-final of his career. They've split wins, with Federer winning both of their hardcourt matches and Thiem winning once each on grass and clay. Federer started for real on tour in 1999, and by 2003, when Nadal was becoming a force, Federer was already flirting with being No. 1. I thought the match was definitely on.

That included their most recent encounter, Federer's straight-sets victory in the Shanghai Masters final in October of 2017.

"I got on the golf cart back to the main building then Rafa texted me a message saying, 'It's not going to be possible, my knee's not well and I can't do it.' I went back to the house and relaxed".

"If I play Rafa there's extra energy in the building - there's always a lot on the line", he said. "I was really looking forward to the match and I'm sorry it didn't happen".

We've got Federer and Nadal, that will be the semi-finals. We've had so many epic battles and I know now that every one we have could be our last. I really hope not. It's one of the most lovely centre courts that we have in the world, it would have been very special. We do hope he finds a way to have those injections and is ready to face Roger.

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