FROM THE BNP PARIBAS OPEN AT INDIAN WELLS – Roger and Rafa will face off for the 29th time on Thursday, but on this occasion neither man will enter the match in tip top shape. But know this: every time they face off the contest is intense, and takes on his historical meaning.
Both the great Swiss and incredible Spaniard struggled in victories on Wednesday and both could have easily lost their matches.
Federer edged his friend Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-7 7-5, while Nadal had to pull out all stops to put down the red hot Ernests Gulbis 4-6 6-4 7-5.
Federer could have really lost the contest as he was frequently outhit by Wawrinka from both wings, but he is smarter player who understands the big moments much more than his Davis Cup team mate does, which is why he has won 13 of their 14 contests.
Just like he did against Novak Djokovic at the Aussie Open, Wawrinka pleased the crowd with his high-flying one-handed backhand and rifling forehand, but despite playing with a sore back, Federer served well enough when he needed to, bludgeoned Wawrinka with his crisp forehand and stayed steady in the third set, even though he had blown the second set when he was broken at love to serving for the match at 5-4.