By Williams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Roger Federer played superbly to claim a third straight win over Rafael Nadal for the first time in his career and reach the last eight in Indian Wells.
The Swiss, 35, won 6-2 6-3 to follow up his Australian Open final victory over the Spaniard two months ago, when Federer won his 18th Grand Slam title.
He will next face Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who upset world number two Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-6 (7-3).
Svetlana Kuznetsova was the first player into the women’s semis.
The eighth seed saw off fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2 and next meets Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova or Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, seeded seventh.
In the pair’s 36th meeting – and first before the quarter-finals of a tournament since their initial meeting in Miami 13 years ago – Federer notched his 13th victory and third in a row.
Nadal, 30, had built his success against Federer over the years on attacking the Swiss player’s backhand, but Federer turned his weaker wing into a weapon in the Australian Open final, and if anything was even more aggressive in Indian Wells.
The Swiss crunched six backhand winners to none from Nadal as he played a flawless opening set, taking it in a little over half an hour.
Nadal might have hoped to profit from a surface markedly slower than that in Melbourne but it did nothing to curb Federer’s aggressive intent.
Another early break in the second set had Federer within sight of the finish line and he raced through with four breaks of serve to none to win in 68 minutes.
“I did very well today, I’m so pleased I’m able to step into the court and play super aggressive,” said Federer. “Coming over the backhand has been part of that.”