INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The sub-card became the main event at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Saturday.
The audience eagerly arrived to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal renew their rivalry, some fans have paid dearly to secure a last hour ticket to Stadium 1.
But Nadal, with tendinitis in his right knee, soon announced his outlet after testing the knee on a morning workout.
The only man's semi-final to be played on Saturday at BNP Paribas Open was between Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic, and Thiem won 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-4, in a match of contrasting styles where there was only one break in the service. 1
It will be Thiem against Federer in Sunday's last It will be the ninth final here in the desert for the fourth seeded Federer, who has won the title five times but lost last year's last after slipping three match points against Juan Martín's part Potro.
It will be the first final at Indian Wells for the seventh-seeded Thiem, and it can be quite an eye-catching duel given every man's dotted style and their 2-2 head-to-head record.
But it will not generate the same kind of expectation as a Federer-Nadal rematch. They have not met each other for 17 months, and it would have been their 39th meeting in singles. But Nadal, who has had patellar tendonitis for years, felt new pain in the late stages of her quarter-final victory over Karen Khachanov on Friday.
Senal on Saturday morning, Nadal told his friendly rival Federer to let him know he couldn't play.
"For me, it's not just about today," Nadal said. "It's about what it means for me to have to draw in a tournament that I love as much as this and in the semi-finals after playing well throughout the tournament. You can imagine I can't be happy."
Nadal also announced that he would withdraw from the Miami Open, which starts next week and is one of the few significant events he has not won. His decision not to play on Saturday was also made with the goal of preserving his clay-court season. An 11-hour French Open Singles champion and the most successful clay-court player ever, Nadal said he is expected to be ready to play on clay in Monte Carlo next month.
Federer, 37, appeared in the arena after Thiem-Raonic match to give an interview to the court for the fans. Nadal leads his rivalry, 23-15, but Federer has won five straight, most recently in the final of the Shanghai Masters in 2017.
"We have had so many epic battles and yes, I know everyone we have Now it can be ours Last, Federer said. "So this was our chance for the last one? I really hope not, and I really believe in the level he plays and I still go, it will definitely be more. "