Their fifth meeting ever in the United States and 29th all time had players, fans and analysts in the tennis world buzzing with excitement.
What ensued over the course of the one-hour and 24-minute match, however, was the equivalent of watching a punctured balloon spewing air.
Rafael Nadal dismantled Indian Wells defending champion Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 in two uneventful sets. The world No. 2, Federer, appeared to be ailing from a back injury, making it troublesome for him to ward off shots directed to the backhand side of the court.
Federer won a measly 29 percent of his second-serve points and was broken in the ninth game of the match. Nadal then went on to hold serve and take the first set.
The second set was more of the same, but more clinical. Nadal raced out to a double-break lead before closing it out, 6-2.
With the victory, Nadal improves to 6-6 against Federer on hard courts and 19-10 overall. As is becoming custom, Nadal's celebration was rather muted after defeating the Swiss Maestro.
Federer will regroup by taking some needed time off by skipping the Masters Series event in Miami later this month.
Nadal, on the other hand, will look to clinch his third title of the 2013 season despite coming off a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee that kept him out of competition for 220 days. A title on the hard courts of Indian Wells would certainly indicate a return toward tennis' elite for Rafael Nadal.
After his straight-set win against Federer, Nadal said (h/t Yahoo's Rada Maher): "After seven months away, I am very happy to be in the semi-finals here. I don't think Roger felt 100 percent tonight. Always it is a very, very special match against Roger, the best player in history. I feel like it is a classic match whenever we play."
Although Nadal may have felt like he was in a classic match with his long-time rival tonight, few, if any, tennis enthusiasts would agree.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim summed up the prevailing feeling of disappointment after the match in a single tweet: "Nadal 6-4, 6-2 ...hype lost big tonight, sadly."
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