Roger Federer has spilled the beans on the one thing Rod Laver has over him – and it has nothing to do with tennis.
Federer moved a step closer to a blockbuster semi-final meeting with Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells after the pair put together routine victories in the fourth round.
After cruising to a 6-1 6-4 win over the 22nd seed Kyle Edmund, Federer thanked Laver – and fellow great Pete Sampras – for watching along at the Californian tournament.
“I love seeing Rod Laver here,” he said.
“I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, it’s always such a pleasure when the legends come out to watch the current generation play. For me it means the world.”
What was unexpected was a piece of honesty.
“Him and Pete have such better nicknames than me, that’s the thing I’m most jealous about,” Federer said.
“The Rocket and the Pistol. I got nothing, so I still got a lot of work to do.”
One win away
Federer’s simple victory over Edmund was not to be taken lightly, even if it only took 63 minutes.
The Briton was on a seven-match winning streak after blitzing the Challenger field at Indian Wells two weeks ago.
“I was relieved I got through that one,” Federer said.
Earlier on a sunny and windy Wednesday, world No.2 Nadal dropped his serve once in a 6-3 6-4 win over qualifier Filip Krajinovic.
The two greats’ comfortable wins came after the top half of the draw was rocked by the upsets of top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No.3 seed Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.
“The difference between players is not huge. It’s small gaps,” Nadal said about the upsets.
“It’s true that for the last 10 years didn’t happen very often.”
While Nadal and Federer feature in the bottom half of the draw, the highest-ranked players left in the top are seventh seed Dominic Thiem and 13th seed Milos Raonic.
Krajinovic hadn’t dropped a set in winning his first three main-draw matches after two wins in qualifying but he was outclassed by Nadal in their one hour and 26 minute encounter.
“Probably played a little bit worse today than yesterday,” Nadal said.
“Maybe because of the conditions.”
Next up for Nadal is Karen Khachanov, who defeated John Isner 6-4 7-6 (7-1).
Meanwhile, Miomir Kecmanovic, a 19-year-old Serb ranked world No.130, to the last eight when Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan retired after he losing the first set 6-4.
Kecmanovic became the first lucky loser to reach the quarter-finals since the tournament achieved Masters 1000 status in 1990.
“It will be funny that somebody other than Novak is still in,” he said of his famous countryman.
Kecmanovic got into the main draw when world No.6 Kevin Anderson withdrew before his opening match with an elbow injury.
Raonic will be Kecmanovic’s next opponent after the big-serving 13th seed accounted for German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-3.
Raonic broke serve once in each set and fired down 12 aces in the 74-minute match.