ATP Masters 1000Indian WellsRoger Federer

Federer Neutralises Nadal To Make Indian Wells Quarter Final

A third successive win for the GOAT against his great rival Rafael Nadal as he moved into the Indian Wells Quarter Finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win in just over an hour.

It was a scintillating performance from the Swiss who fired 26 winners and set the tone by breaking in the opening game to win through in style and set up a tie with Nick Kyrgios who defeated Novak Djokovic for the second tournament in a row.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Indian Wells Fourth Round 2017

Federer won the toss and chose sides. Nadal elected to serve and got off to the worst possible start by dropping serve. The Spaniard created an immediate break point back opportunity, but Roger came up with three good serves to hold from 30-40.

With a 3-1 lead, Roger was moving brilliantly and playing with total freedom as he cracked three backhand winners in game 5 to land a double break including a peach of a backhand down the line on break point. A SABR followed in his next return game which drew gasps from the crowd, and he went on to take the set 6-2.

Nadal usually finds something extra when he's under the cosh, but in set 2 Roger's dominance continued as he broke in game 3 with a sweet forehand before consolidating for 3-1. The combination of the Swiss holding comfortably and pressuring in every return game finally proved too much for Nadal who was broken for the second time when serving to stay in the match at 3-5 as Roger booked his spot in the Quarter Finals.

Match Stats

  Roger Federer Rafael Nadal
Aces 5 2
Double Faults 1 0
First Serve Percent 56% (25/45) 59% (32/54)
1st Serve Points Won 76% (19/25) 56% (18/32)
2nd Serve Points Won 75% (15/20) 59% (13/22)
Break Points Saved 100% (1/1) 20% (1/5)
Service Games Played 8 9
1st Serve Return Points Won 44% (14/32) 24% (6/25)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 41% (9/22) 25% (5/20)
Break Points Converted 80% (4/5) 0% (0/1)
Return Games Played 9 8
Winners 26 10
Unforced Errors 17 15
Total Service Points Won 76% (34/45) 57% (31/54)
Total Return Points Won 43% (23/54) 24% (11/45)
Total Points Won 58% (57/99) 42% (42/99)
SABR 100% (1/1) 0

Shot of the Match

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Indian Wells Nadal 2017

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 so it's hard to put the ball away. So getting in the lead was crucial, and then staying on the offence and pressing was the goal for me. It was a really good performance by me, I thought.

A brilliant performance here to back up his win in Australia. The final in Melbourne was a hard fought win that required Fed to dig deep and believe in his game plan in the most difficult moments, but this match was just a masterclass where he hit Nadal off the court.

Like the Australian Open final, it once again stemmed from his backhand return. Nadal wasn't able to win any free points on serve and had no safe areas to play into when he needed to neutralise Federer's aggressive gameplan. He was behind in virtually every rally after the first couple of shots and Roger didn't take his foot off the gas. He then backed it up with his serve which was as solid as ever, only facing one break point in the match and with that, there was only ever going to be one winner.

Like I said in my quick preview the court favoured Nadal as it's slow (Hawkeye's Court Pace Index shows Indian Wells at 27.3 compared to Melbourne's 45) but Federer didn't let Nadal's grinding topspin factor. His average hit point was a couple of feet inside the baseline throughout the match, and with the ball travelling quickly through the air he was able to play on his terms.

Just a top notch performance from the first ball to the last. The bad news? A performance like that only puts him into the Quarter Final!

Predictions vs. Kyrgios

Fed Kyrgios

Next up is Kyrgios who defeated Djokovic for the second successive tournament and broke the Serb's 19 match winning streak in Indian Wells. Djokovic wasn't able to fashion a single break point in the match with Kyrgios's serve proving the difference as he came through 6-4 7-6(3).

The Aussie leads the H2H against Fed 1-0 after defeating him in Madrid in 2015 which was a bit of a weird match so I don't think it affects what happens here.

Kyrgios has been serving brilliantly lately, and there's no real discernible difference between his first and second serve which makes it tough for the returner. Fed usually handles the big servers, but Kyrgios has quite a few other weapons in his arsenal, so he will need to protect his serve well and make Kyrgios feel like he's the guy having to work harder to hold.

We know the Aussie is streaky enough to win games and even matches in the blink of an eye, but he does blow hot and cold and even just one moment of magic from Federer could take his mind out of kilter and allow Fed to take control, so we'll see what happens. Based on today's performance I'll pick Fed to come through in three tight sets.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. Very clean Win..Stats shows how much he outplayed Rafa..Hope he gets it done against Nick too…They only play tomorrow though, rite?

      1. Has to be day cos girls get night! Tough noon start but good for TV worldwide..
        Rafa’s stats tell you a lot! Very rare he serves less than 60% first serves. His serve just sat up today and Feds timing was just totally on! Rafa constantly on back foot, hit short ND as u say was hit off court. Nick match much harder to call. Bound to be a couple of TB’s but Fed has to concentrate on his serve the whole time and get in if he wants. Has to attack the NK BH.. FH much more of a weapon..

    1. This is awesome. What’s most impressing with Federer is that he keeps reinventing himself. Most 35-year-olds would be happy to hang on to their strengths as long as they can, until they eventually fade away. Not RF. Take on a new trainer, change racket, invent a new shot. Now suddenly he has found the key to unlock his greatest nemesis. Steve Tignor put it in a nice and weird sort of way: β€œWhere has this guy been all these years?”

      1. Haha people are talking like Fed is a late bloomer and has just started winning a few big matches now he’s 35 πŸ™‚ I’m not gonna forget his 04 – 07 level in a hurry.

  1. Wow! What a performance from Federer!

    From Steve Tignor at

    By the time his last forehand had landed on the baseline for a winner, a question was going through my mind, one that I never thought I would find myself asking about Roger Federer: β€œWhere has this guy been all these years?”

    Federer’ backhand is ridiculous in this match. But I’m happier with his forehand and movement. Explosive! And Nadal’s movement is a shadow of its former self. Which means Federer can finally finish points against Nadal and stay ahead/fresh.

      1. I was thinking that too – any thoughts, anybody, on what’s going on with that? Trying to do unreturnable servers –>> harder execution, or something else?

    1. Would need to see what the avg first serve speed was. Fed can hit pretty big when he chooses. I don’t think 56% is so bad, though, not optimum obvs but manageable. Anything above 60 would be good.

  2. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ , thank Jonathan. I’ve got to run and got lectures to deliver. Will be back to celebrate! πŸ™‚

  3. What a match !!!!

    My prediction was that it would be a straight set victory for the one who took the first set and so it happened. But it happened in style.

    An observation. Rafa was not happy with the draw. His words indcated the pressure he was in.

    Fed was unfazed with the draw. Positive devil-may-care mindset. That coupled with his game-plan just kicked the much-picked butt of Rafa

    Kyrgios is on a roll against Novak. But if Fed takes the wind out of his sails early on ( like he did with Rafa ) Nick will implode.

    1. I noticed that too – the different attitude. And many of us shared Nadal’s point of view, taking pity on the players of this unheard of tough quarter of the draw. And Roger surprised us all by just being more excited – that’s the spirit/FedΓ©sprit!
      This guy knows how to make happiness happen….

      1. Yup, Nadal wants: –

        1 – Higher Net
        2 – More space between the baseline and lines judges
        3 – Reduction in the area of the service box to eliminate aces and service winners
        4 – A red dotted line right before the service line that players cannot cross to reduce front court play
        5 – Increase the distance between baselines
        6 –

        Keep adding to this list everyone…

      2. Years ago when both Federer and Nadal were on the ATP Players Council, Nadal lobbied for rankings results to be tallied over 24 months, not 12. This would have made it harder for the lower ranked players to move up, and do much to preserve the top 2 or 4 hierarchy. Nadal lost that fight and ended up leaving the Players Council.

      3. Tbf to Rafa, he was responding to the constant discussion about changing rules etc. He was joking re net! Also he rightly said that to avoid such quarters reoccurring he needed to improve his ranking.. v honest and says he played crap which he did.. alarmingly so for neutrals..

      4. Ah, I just saw a tweet and didn’t look into it anymore.

        Do you think he played badly? He played better in Aus but here Fed kinda stopped him playing. Wasn’t like he missed a ton of easy balls but just always on the back foot. I think the worst I’ve seen him play was that Madrid final vs. Murray.

  4. Amazing Fed.. its always fun to watch when most of the people especially the critics didn’t pick fed but he shows a magnificent match.. well nick became dangerous right now. So lets see.. but im happy that he can play like that.I hope he can keep it up.. go fed!!

  5. Predicted in 2, Fed won in 2. Dominance.Fed had all the place, and did what he wanted. Expect him to beat Kyrgios.

  6. I’m now watching the match a 2nd time. Now I can relax and just enjoy Roger’s brilliance. How big a factor do you think the bigger racquet is in his improved BH?

    Am praying that Fed can get past Kyrgios because if he does I think he will win the title.

    1. Definitely a big factor, more stable on off centre hits. But the other factor is that he’s actually going for it and believing in it. Hopefully he doesn’t totally forget the slice πŸ˜€

      1. Well, he did at least one slice because the commentator commented on it and I gave Roger a ticking off for using it against Nadal πŸ™‚

  7. Fedonistic performance! It was a pure joy! Superb BHs and aggressive returns but smart serving was also impressive today, I thought. The green outfit is growing into my cup of green tea πŸ™‚ Fine work as today’s Fed, Jonathan. Thanks for the great effort to be awake at 2am!

      1. 7pm start tonight! Civilised! Altho I think it’s a crap time for Rog.. noon.. TV and WTA driven

  8. It seems to me that with this new backhand ferocity, Federer does not have a single technical weakness in his game anymore.

    Is all about whether he’s able to play to his potential on the day.

    1. Just a slight change of tactic and maybe swing path made the difference. I don’t think his bh was ever a weakness as such though, just not his strongest suit and one guy exploited it better than anyone else.

      1. Wasn’t a weakness but his presser reveals a lot that he is more confident about taking it early and on the rise cos bigger head allows for less shanking etc. Original racquet better for slice and FH in is words.

  9. Haha you gotta love this this golden piece of advice that papa Fed doled out: “Hit the backhand dammit”!! Who would have thought that Robert was the coach Federer needed after all these years.

    Can’t wait to visit Ruan’s blog to hear what whiny drivel he puts forth after today’s matches. Novak out and Federer beats Nadal – must be the worst day ever for him. That should make for an entertaining read.

  10. Fedomenal, Fedominating, Fedonistic – Lovely new words Stefan & Wanda

    Its my weekend, Fed is not playing tonight

    Gonna do some Fedbanging to some Fedrock tonight.

    Where was Papa Robert all these years incidentally !!!

  11. I have watched Federer play since 2001 and have almost 40 CDs of his matches. I have never seen him play better against someone as good as Nadal. What a match! The man is an ageless genius!

      1. I paid good money to buy them from various sources in the U.K. and in the US. When Federer stops playing, I will watch the DVDs and relive the glory days (the only Federer loss DVD I have is the 2008 Wimbledon final).

  12. Awesome match, 3 match win streak. No fear attitude, absolutely lovin’ it. Who say you can’t teach old dog new tricks eh? Its going to be a tough match against Kyrgios but if Roger takes the ball early and go for his shots, he has a good chance but its going to be close match. Allez Roger!!!

  13. Who would have thought more than 10 years ago that today we would still be in absolute awe with what this mister produces on court?
    Honestly, I think that words stopped doing full justice long ago; sometimes I just prefer to lay back and enjoy this in silence.

    Damn, aren’t we incrediby fortunate to be around these times, instead of listening to granddaddy telling the story “a long, long time ago, there was this guy who…etc, etc” ???

  14. What a stunning display, exuberant, confident and full-flow attacking tennis πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ . I thought that Roger might struggle to bring out what he did at AO, boy, how wrong that was; Roger went a step further with an astonishing serve returns with all the aggression πŸ™‚ . Had Roger done this type of play in the past a few more times, we would be counting a number of GSs a lot more than 18 πŸ™‚ .
    May this continue please

  15. I have been coming to Indian Wells for 7 years hoping to see Roger play. I was lucky enough to see a few matches over the years against Jack Sock and Milos Raonic and a few practices. Then the injury happened last year – no Federer. But my ultimate wish always was to see Roger play against Nadal at Indian Wells and win. That wish came true last night in spectacular fashion! He was amazing. I couldn’t believe he broke him in the first game and had complete control of the match. It never felt like Nadal was in it.
    I can’t wait to go back and rewatch the match again and see how my photos came out. Fan story/photos coming soon!

    1. Ah cool! Looks like getting a day session ticket paid off here πŸ˜›

      Funnest match of the year to watch so far I think, alongside the Berdych one in Aus.

    2. Lucky you Fran! I can only imagine how amazing it was to be there yesterday! It would have been worth the world to be able to watch the match on court yesterday!

  16. Good to see 7 out 8 quarterfinalists are from Gen Next – especially this one kid caller Roger something from Switzerland.

    And I am part of the I hate Ruan’s club πŸ™‚ I am sniggering at how he must be crying himself to sleep now.

    1. I see you meant with bit of sarcasm still not sure, Don’t Stan and Cuevas are 30+? And Sock and Kei probably belongs to Lost generation rather that Next-Gen.. So only 3 from Gen-Next if we have to call..

      1. Was tongue in cheek rather than sarcasm, and I wanted to say outside of the Big Four rather than Gen Next.

  17. “Peachy”? Jonathan, soon you will be commentating with the best of them! Wow is all I can think of. Nadal’s attack on Fed’s backhand has no effect anymore. Thank God he changed rackets a while back. Ivan’s advice about playing Nadal has been golden.

    With the way Kyrgios is playing, I think he is the most difficult opponent left in the field. Roger the only one left of the “Big Four”. Haha. Stan should have lost yesterday. Nishioka cramping at the end, seems he will go far.

    Exciting tournament really and SO NICE for me to have a tournament in my time zone!

  18. Fed was absolutely brilliant in this one imo. Just completely blew Nadal off the court which isn’t something we’ve seen at all really. If Fed can find a way to come through NK I see no reason why he can’t win this whole thing too.

    1. That Mary Carrillo who famously said, “I have said and argued with John McEnroe and Ted Robinson during our French Open telecasts for many years that you cannot anoint Roger Federer the greatest of all time if he isn’t the greatest of his own time,”.

      1. Yup that was before the AO2017 win and this drubbing he gave Nadal. Does that make Fed the best of his generation at least? Hmmm?

      2. The only time I remember her commentating was on the 2009 Miami match against Djoker. Never see any tennischannel stuff over here.

    1. Pospisil??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

      1. I love his passion and always smiling win or lose. Great attitude, works hard, back injury has played a number on his confidence. To each their own!

  19. It seems any highlights on Youtube have been deleted. Does anyone have a highlight or even full match link to share?

    1. Yeah they are getting removed at light speed this week. Only TennisTV ones available which are shite, spend more time panning around the grounds and clips of fans going through the turnstiles.

  20. I think Fed read my comment on the previous post. I wanted him to not just win against Dull but crush him.

    I don’t think a lot of people talk about this but breaking your opponent twice in a set is very important. It’s like running your opponent with a knife and then twisting it twice both ways. It breaks him mentally and loses any strength to come back at least in that set. That’s been Feds prob over the years. How many times have we seen Fed blow a lead in a set.

    This time he got it done tho. Break him once and that’s a left hook but break him second time and it’s a KO!

    Do it twice in a match and break him when he is serving to stay in the match and he won’t recover mentally.

    You can say Fed now has mental edge over Dull and will be confident on even Clay, should they meet on the dirt.

    I am hoping more than expecting against Kyrgios that Fed will do to him what he did to Karlovic in 2009 Wimby. Before he met Fed in QF of whatever round it was, Karlovic had bagged wins or big names and had not been broken. Fed broke him in second or third service game and went on to win in straight sets. Kyrgios is a different animal and has much better game than Karlovic but then Fed is above and beyond that once Fed has returned the serve.

    I also expect three sets but frankly speaking the game will be decided more by how Kyrgios plays than Fed does.

    This match Roger, if you are reading….just win the match, don’t have to crush him. He is only a new kid on the block. ?

      1. Hey, Fed made so many finals. If Someone takes out shaky Dull, Fed can win RG this year. I think Fed can win against Dull as well but hey ho !

  21. From RF’s press conference after the Nadal beat down –

    Q. Fans love all of your shots, but I think they particularly love your backhand. Could you give us a few free-form thoughts about your backhand, how it’s evolved over the years, how you have worked on it, especially recently? Did you do a lot of video work Ivan, avoiding the net, being aggressive? Talk about that.

    ROGER FEDERER: I think with the bigger racquet, head size, and definitely having an easier time to come over the return, especially, and then stay aggressive throughout the rally, as well. Clearly because it has more power, I have to be careful, you know, how I manage that because the ball flies out of the racquet faster than with my previous racquet, before ’14, that I had for a few years there. So for me, I think it was the work that I had in November/December. It’s weird, you know, but you just feel like it’s paying off, you know. Because I hit so many balls at practice, you go much more rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, and eventually you play points and sets and you realize all that rhythm, you almost don’t need it. Because look at the rallies today. There was hardly any normal rallies against Steve Johnson. One is a slice, one is a huge topspin, one is a block return. You never play ten backhand to backhand shots, but in practice you practice those a ton and eventually they are engrained in the system and you feel way better. I think the backhand and putting — has gotten better because I have been able to put so many hours onto the racquet now. And really, since this year, I feel super comfortable with the racquet, and I think I have also gained confidence stepping into it. Obviously you have to take it on the rise, and for that you need good footwork, because if the footwork is not right, you won’t be on top of the ball. So I think all my coaches throughout my career have told me to go more for the backhand, but I used to shank more. So maybe deep down I didn’t always believe that I had it in the most important moments. But I think that’s changing little by little, which I’m very happy about

    1. Yeah interesting, he also said the RF 97 he is using now is slightly different to the prototype he tried after Stakhovsky loss. And he felt it was a lot better than that one.

  22. If Fed wins Indian Wells he will leapfrog Nadal to be No. 6.

    Even if he loses to Nick which of course is a big If, he will be No 7 which is good going in into FO.

    1. Indeed. If he makes a decent Miami Open too, he could actually be back in the top 4 by April 3rd (both Nishikori and Raonic have plenty of points to defend in these two tournaments). That would be quite a comeback!

  23. Raonic, I believe has pulled out of Miami. So, he will be falling in the rankings.
    The six months off was the best for Fed’s game in the long run. Showing his level of talent when he has had the rest and practice.
    Surprised Stan is still in this. Scraping out match wins.
    Mary C used to work for ESPN. She can be quite nasty and sarcastic at times.

    1. Where did you read about Raonic? He practiced in Miami a couple of days ago according to the Miami Open twitter. Tsonga has pulled out, though (baby coming…).

      1. Sorry, can’t remember where I read that. I can’t seem to find any info that he is playing for sure?

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