Potential Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Clash in Indian Wells Will Steal Show

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26:  Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain plays pose for a photo before their semifinal match during day eleven of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

With one more win each at Indian Wells this week, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 29th time in a competitive match, and for the first time since last year's semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open. 

And where else but Indian Wells, California?

On Wednesday, Federer will take on compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, and Nadal will battle Ernests Gulbis. Both are favored to advance, setting the stage for a potential classic. If the stars align in both of their fourth-round matches, then the tennis world will have just hours to prepare for the biggest match of the year thus far.

Forget about the tournament final on Sunday, because a quarterfinal pitting Fed and Rafa against one another would steal the show and render every match after that obsolete.

The two tennis legends have formed one of the sport's greatest rivalries over the years, going head-to-head in eight Grand Slam finals since 2006. Their epic 2008 Wimbledon final is still viewed today as one of, if not the greatest match ever played.

Forget about tennis history—this rivalry is one of the greatest in the history of sports, and the fact that it was put on hold for so long only adds to the intrigue of what fans could potentially see this weekend at Indian Wells.

Although Nadal leads the all-time series 18-10, Federer won their most recent match last year at Indian Wells, taking out his Spanish rival in straight sets. Plus, Federer is 6-5 against Nadal on hard courts for his career.

Rafa's seven-month layoff will certainly influence his approach, as Indian Wells is the first hard-court tournament he's played in roughly a year. But whatever advantage Federer has in terms of rhythm, Nadal has in terms of age. At 26, the 11-time Grand Slam champion is five years younger than his rival.

Not only would a Federer-Nadal quarterfinal carry with it high stakes, but the star and rivalry factors would make it the match of the tournament, stealing the show at Indian Wells.

It wasn't long ago that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the top two players in the game, two untouchable rivals in a class of their own.

Times have changed, but the mystique of Federer vs. Nadal hasn't wavered. 


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