Saturday, March 16, 2019 - Rafael Nadal speaks to the press following his withdrawal from the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jonathan Moore/BNP Paribas Open)
It was the matchup everyone was hoping for from the very moment the BNP Paribas Open draw was released: a Rafael Nadal–Roger Federer semifinal, what would be the 39th edition of the so-called ‘Fedal’ rivalry. It would be their fourth encounter at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
But it was not to be.
After a morning practice session on Saturday prior to his blockbuster matchup with Federer, Nadal, 32, withdrew from the event with a knee injury.
“The week had been positive until yesterday,” said Nadal, who tweaked his long-compromised right knee during his 7-6(2), 7-6(2) win over Russian Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals.
“[I have to] accept the situation, even if today is a sad moment for me,” said the Spaniard, who earlier this year pulled out of Brisbane with a thigh strain. “I try to be always positive and grateful with all the things that tennis has given to me and life has given to me. I can’t complain much, because I feel very fortunate for all the things that I’ve done in this life and happened to me in the world of tennis. It’s normal that after all those things you go through, there are sad and tough moments, too.”
As a result of the injury, Nadal will head home to Mallorca, skipping the upcoming Miami Open. The 17-time Slam champ has targeted a return at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which begins April 14. Federer, seeking a record sixth title in the desert, advances to play the winner of the Milos Raonic–Dominic Thiem semi.
“I’m just going to keep going, and I’m just going to keep doing the things that work well for me and accepting that sometimes these issues can happen,” he said. “So all the things that are in my hands I am doing well. The things that I can’t control, I can’t control.”
Despite dropping five straight matches against Federer, Nadal remains in control of the career head-to-head, 23-15.
It’s not the first high-profile pullout for Nadal, who tearfully withdrew from Roland Garros in 2016 citing a left wrist injury.
“For me it’s not about only today,” said the world No. 2. “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 semifinals after playing well during the whole tournament. You can imagine that I can’t be happy. Sometimes it’s tough and frustrating for me personally to go through all this stuff.”