Rafael Nadal pulls out of Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer
Federer to face Austria's Dominic Thiem in Sunday's final after battling past Milos Raonic in last four
Last Updated: 18/03/19 1:16pm
Rafael Nadal withdrew from his BNP Paribas Open semi-final with Roger Federer, allowing the Swiss great to reach his ninth Indian Wells final.
The pair's much anticipated 39th meeting failed to materialise on Saturday as confirmation of the Spaniard's withdrawal due to a right knee injury came moments before Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic got the day's play underway.
Having not faced off since Shanghai in 2017, there were high hopes of a thrilling encounter but after initial reports that Nadal had practiced without problems, suggestions to the contrary began to emerge.
Eventually confirmation came, along with the news that the Spaniard would also miss the Miami Open.
"I warmed up today and I felt that my knee was not good to compete at the level I needed to compete in semi-finals," Nadal told the tournament's official website.
Just 5th time in @RafaelNadal's career that he's conceded a walkover.— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) March 16, 2019
2019 @BNPParibasOpen SF vs. @RogerFederer
2017 @RolexPMasters QF vs. Filip Krajinovic
2016 @RolandGarros 3R vs. @M_Granollers
2012 @MiamiOpen SF vs. @Andy_Murray
2004 Estoril QF vs. Irakli Labadze#BNPPO19
"It's tough for me to accept all these things that I'm going through in my career. Sometimes I feel sad because I'm in a disadvantage to all my opponents.
"[I need to] be positive and grateful for all the things tennis has given to me. I feel fortunate for all the things I've done in my life and the world of tennis."
It means Federer is into a third successive Indian Wells final and having been beaten by Juan Martin del Potro in a thriller last year, he will hope to claim his sixth title in the Californian desert, two years after his last which came after victory over Stan Wawrinka.
The 37-year has eased through the draw without dropping a set and having made history by joining Jimmy Connors in the 100 club with his title success in Dubai a couple of weeks ago - he is on track for 101 when he faces Thiem in Sunday's final.
The Austrian emerged victorious from a titanic struggle against 2016 Indian Wells runner-up Raonic, winning 7-6 (7/3) 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 to set up a fifth career meeting with Federer who will be playing in his 49th Masters final.
In contrast it is Thiem's third, having reached the Madrid Open final in each of the last two years, but the Austrian is more well-known for his prowess on the clay - only three of his 18 career ATP finals have been on hard courts, including his last title in St Petersburg last year.
Federer has not claimed a Masters title since his Shanghai success over Nadal and the fourth seed has lost just once this season - his fourth round defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open - and has won both his hard court meetings with Thiem without dropping a set.
Nadal remains without a title since Toronto in August last year and a win over Federer since the Australian Open in 2017 but with a four-week break he will re-emerge for the clay-court season in Monte Carlo before yet another French Open at Roland Garros.
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