INDIAN WELLS, USA: A hurting Rafael Nadal is "hopeful" that he will be ready on Saturday to renew his rivalry with Roger Federer in the semi-final of the ATP Indian Wells Masters.
The old enemies have collected 37 Grand Slam titles between them – Federer with 20 and Nadal with 17 – and built a unique relationship in 15 years and 38 earlier games, not to mention countless promotional and charity activities from the court together .
"If I don't see this competition as special, it's because I don't like this sport and I don't appreciate the story of this sport," Nadal said after reaching the semi-final confrontation with a 7-6 (7 / 2), 7-6 (7/2) victory over Karen Khachanov.
"It's not my business," he said. "Of course it is a special competition."
Federer, who beat the Czech Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals, feels the same, and says that the contrast in styles and personality between himself and Nadal gives a story to their history.
"The way we approach it is very different, but we both find a way to excel," Federer said. "The way he came up was based on clay, and apparently I was very grass-based and we both found our ways on the other side," said Federer. "It was quite a journey with Rafa side by side."
After 38 career meetings, Nadal leads the series 23-15, but Federer has a slight lead of 11-9 on hardcourts.
The Swiss grandmaster has won the last five in the series, but says it is of little importance now that it was almost a year and a half ago since their last meeting in the Shanghai Masters final in October 2017.
Nadal also says that the contrast in styles, combined with the pure lifespan of the couple, makes every meeting something to cherish.
"Different styles, different ways to understand the sport and at the same time two players with a good relationship after everything we've experienced in our career, competing for the most important things," he said.
There was, however, a shadow over the confrontation with the blockbuster, but after often injured Nadal needed treatment to have supporting tape applied to his right knee in his victory over Khachanov.
A few hours earlier, Federer had been looking forward to the chance to take over a healthy Nadal, after similar problems ended last year's US Open campaign by the Spaniard last year, and his US Open campaign last year.
He did not play again until the Australian Open, where he fell in the championship game against Novak Djokovic.
Nadal said he hoped to be ready to fight Federer again, but with a pragmatic obstinacy born he couldn't help but hedge.
"Of course my goal and my idea is to be ready for tomorrow," Nadal said. "I cannot guarantee how I will wake up tomorrow morning."