For one set, it appeared as though Roger Federer was back to his old ways before Rafael Nadal mounted a comeback over the final two sets to defeat his longtime rival by a score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters.
As one would expect from these two, it was a terrific match that saw both players battle back and forth for over two hours.
With the win, Nadal will now take on Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. The Czech powerhouse upset world No. 2 Andy Murray in a quarterfinal earlier in the day.
The upset bid was on from the outset, as Federer appeared as confident as he has in all of 2013 in the first set. The legend held serve throughout the set and utilized strong forehands to attack Nadal's backhand.
As Beyond the Baseline tweeted out, it was a wise strategy that turned back the clock and reminded everyone of the Federer of old.
Federer takes he first 7-5. Great serving, great forehanding, vintage Roger. #XXXI— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) August 17, 2013
It was a close set, but Federer's ability to elevate his game toward the end of the set was the difference. He took 12 of the last 15 points to win it 7-5, per TennisTV.
Breaking Federer's serve would continue to be a challenge for Nadal early in the second set. He had multiple break points early with a 2-1 lead, but ultimately wouldn't capitalize as Federer's service game was once again in classic Federer form, according to Andrew Burton of TennisWorld:
Three holds, Nadal leads 2-1 on serve. Nadal not playing at his absolute best, Federer playing well after first service hold.— Andrew Burton (@burtonad) August 17, 2013
However, as Chris Skelton of Tennis View noted, the turning point in the match would come soon after that, as Nadal would dig himself out of an 0-30 deficit by playing to Federer's backhand himself.
Possibly a turning point ahead after Nadal digs out of 0-30.— Chris Skelton (@ChrisSkelton87) August 17, 2013
With Federer now attempting to keep up with Nadal's own powerful forehand, the complexion of the match quickly shifted. Nadal would rally to take the set by taking 75 percent of his first-service points and breaking Federer's service once.
The third set would prove to be more of the same, as Federer simply couldn't recapture the form and confidence that he used to win the first set. Nadal would put an exclamation point on the victory by taking 80 percent of his first-service points to put Federer away and earn a semifinal berth.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of CincyTennis.com.