Friday, March 15, 2019 - Rafael Nadal plays Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
While the contest eventually ended in a 7-6(2), 7-6(2) straight-set victory for Nadal, that score doesn’t do justice to World No. 13 Khachanov.
The Russian was tremendous, employing a diverse mix of thunderous serves and precise backhand winners to give Nadal everything that he could handle. He served a whopping 17 aces and won (69/89) 78% of his first serve points. The performance was good enough to beat almost anyone on tour, but unfortunately for him, Nadal is far from anyone.
After being broken in the match’s opening game, the 3-time BNP Paribas Open titlist played breathtaking tennis. He dominated the first set tiebreak, gaining control of the match with pinpoint accuracy that befuddled Khachanov.
As he began to battle pain in his knee that hampered his movement in the second frame, Nadal showcased the heart of a champion. With accuracy befitting of a 17-time Grand Slam victor, he uncorked beautiful groundstrokes that painted the sidelines and forced errors from the Russian.
Nadal will have little time to rest, as he next meets long-time career rival Roger Federer in the semifinals. With a chance to reach his fifth career BNP Paribas Open final at stake, the Spaniard will need to channel another legendary performance in Tennis Paradise.