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Nadal surprised by form after Federer win

RAFAEL NADAL might reflect fondly on days when post-match chatter was of shot-making and title-runs. These days it consists mainly of arthroscopes and surgeons.

The Spaniard, then, must be mightily satisfied his left knee – the most scrutinised body part in men's tennis – passed a high-profile examination when he swept aside great rival Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals in Indian Wells.

The attention foisted on Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open this year, his first hardcourt tournament in almost a year, has been extraordinary.

Following a second-round exit at Wimbledon last year, Nadal was sidelined for seven months by an injury to that knee. The tennis world has closely monitored his recovery since. The 26-year-old has progressed smoothly at Indian Wells, though, winning his first two matches with one walkover before thumping long-time rival Federer 6-2 6-4 in the quarters.

He has shown no visible signs of discomfort, with the knee taped throughout his matches, and said he was especially pleased with his movement while taking advantage of Federer who was struggling with his own back niggle.

"My movement tonight was much better than yesterday," said 11-times grand slam singles champion Nadal. "I played a fantastic first set, in my opinion. Sometimes I am not able to play all the shots with my forehand that I used to because I am not that fast yet to do it.

"But it is a big surprise for me to have these results, because I really was not able to practise a lot."


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