Any doubts about whether Rafael Nadal is back to his best were annihilated when he trounced long-time rival Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 in one hour, 24 minutes in their quarter-final at the Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California.
It was Nadal’s 19th victory in 29 matches against the Swiss maestro.
Games went with serve until 3-3 in the first set, when Nadal secured a break and held on to take it 6-4.
He then bolted out of the blocks in the second, breaking Federer in the first and again in the third games to race to a 3-0 lead.
Federer managed to snatch back one break at 3-1 but Nadal’s momentum was compelling, and he ran out the set 6-2, completing the straight sets win.
Nadal’s future in the game looked shaky in 2012 when he was sidelined for eight months major knee tendonitis after his second-round Wimbledon loss.
He was concerned of how the unforgiving hard courts in the Californian desert resort town might impact on his comeback and his ability to be at his best for his beloved clay court tournaments of Monte Carlo and Roland Garros.
His thrashing of Federer shows his ball striking and match play is as good as ever but it is whether he can remain injury-free on the gruelling clay courts will determine whether he will add to his record haul of French Open titles in early June.
Nadal will now play Thomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the semi-final, who is yet to drop a set in this tournament.