19 Mar 2016

Old foes to meet again

7:55 pm on 19 March 2016

Rafael Nadal has turned back the clock to book a semi-final against world number one Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal pose before the start of their Monte Carlo semi-final, 2015.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal pose before the start of their Monte Carlo semi-final, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Nadal survived a few anxious moments in see-sawing 6-4 6-3 quarter-final victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori in California on Friday.

The Spanish left-hander, a three-times champion at Indian Wells, will next meet top-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic, who battled past Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2) 7-6(2) in the last of the quarter-finals.

Djokovic, the world number one and defending champion, improved his stellar record for the year to 20-1 as he seeks a fifth title at Indian Wells.

Nadal fought back from 1-3 down and 15-40 on serve in the opening set, then held off a late fightback by Nishikori in the second to prevail after a little more than an hour and a half at the sun-baked Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

"The first set was very important," 14-times grand slam winner Nadal said in a courtside interview.

"I changed a little bit the rhythm of the match and I think I played well."

The second semi-final at Indian Wells will be contested by Belgian David Goffin and big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

Serena reaches final

Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to forge past Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 7-6(1) and move into the final.

The world number one, who will play Victoria Azarenka for the title, was 4-2 down in the opening set and not moving freely in the semi-final at Indian Wells.

However, after the American found her rhythm she claimed four straight games to take control of the set, then continued her run in the second to win the opening three games before her Polish opponent fought back.

"I think it was really good for me to have a match like that and I think that's the reason 'Aga' is doing so well, because she never gave up," Williams told reporters.

Williams improved to 23-1 at Indian Wells, where she won in 1999 and 2001, before taking a self-imposed 14-year exile from the event amidst allegations of racial abuse from fans after sister Venus withdrew minutes before their semi-final showdown.