(AP) Rafael Nadal has defeated error-prone Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in the earliest meeting between the two rivals since they first played each other in 2004.
Nadal needed barely 1 1/2 hours to close out the defending champion in their 29th career meeting Thursday night and the first in a quarterfinal. Nadal faced just two break points on his serve in the match.
Nadal and Federer usually don't play each other until the semifinals and finals of tournaments, but the Indian Wells draw pitted them against each other in their earliest meeting since their match in the third round at Miami.
Nadal returned to the ATP Tour a month ago, winning two of three tournaments on clay after missing seven months because of a left knee injury. Federer tweaked his back earlier in the tournament.