Nadal pulls out with injury before Federer semi-final

Rex Christensen
March 17, 2019

"I wanted to try my best to be competitive today", a dejected Nadal said. "But I warmed up this morning and felt that my knee wasn't good enough to compete at the needed level". Dominic Thiem recorded unforced errors as nil in the first set.

He couldn't convert his only break point against Raonic in the second, and Raonic managed to seize the tiebreaker aided by a favorable netcord bounce for a 5-3 lead. Seventh-seeded Thiem has done well here after recovering from an illness that slowed him early this year; he hadn't won a set from Raonic in two previous matchups but was almost flawless in the first set Saturday and he earned the only service break of the match at 3-2 in the third set.

Nadal is second all time with 17 Grand Slam singles titles but has been hampered in the past by knee problems. They've split wins, with Federer winning both of their hardcourt matches and Thiem winning once each on grass and clay.

Federer now has a chance to claim his 101st career ATP singles title on Sunday. After an uninspiring performance against unseeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic parked his run in the third round and then turned his attention to doubles.

"We've had so many epic battles", Federer, 38, said. [Nadal] played so well this week and I thought he was playing some of his best tennis again.

Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Milos Raonic of Canada during their men's singles semifinal at the Indian Wells 2019
Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Milos Raonic of Canada during their men’s singles semifinal at the Indian Wells 2019

"It's about what it means for me to have to pull out in a tournament that I love so much like this one, and in the semi-finals after playing well during the whole tournament".

He underwent surgery on his ankle to remove an intra-articular loose body in November and only resumed training in December.

"It is not about only today", Nadal said in an emotional press conference after announcing his decision. "It's one of these victories today I'm really proud of", Nadal told reporters, declining to absolutely guarantee that he would be okay to play on Saturday.

"You look back at what I did well there, but you can't just copy-paste and play exactly the same thing again", Federer said.

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