FEDERER, NADAL IN
Top guns advance to cross swords
Federer is a four-time champion at Indian Wells who won his last title in 2012. He defeated Nadal in the Australian Open final in January for his record 18th Grand Slam title. This meeting will be the earliest they have played since their first match in 2004 at Miami, where Nadal won.
“Because it’s early in the tournament, I think we both don’t quite yet know to 100 per cent how everything feels,” Federer said. “There is a bit of the unknown, which is exciting maybe for the fans to see how we’re going to try to figure that part out.”
Federer hit 32 winners against Johnson, including a forehand volley that earned him a minibreak in the first set tiebreaker. He won five of the next six points and closed out the set on Johnson’s desperate backhand lob that landed wide.
Johnson held at 6-6 to force the second tiebreaker and fell behind 4-2. He broke Federer for a 4-4 tie before Federer won on his second match point when Johnson netted a backhand.
“In the second set, I think he was serving almost 90 per cent at one point,” Federer said. “That’s why I changed my position on the return. I was trying to mix it up a bit.”
Nadal closed out his 90minute, third-round match in 35C heat with a forehand winner.
Nadal won 80 per cent of his first-serve points and three of