Young players have pulled off many significant victories at this year’s BNP Paribas Open, but some of their elders are still going strong.
The success of 37-year-old Roger Federer, 38-year-old Venus Williams, 35-year-old Philipp Kohlschreiber, and 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic is worth noting, and 32-year-old Rafael Nadal was asked his thoughts on why those players have remained competitive at advanced ages.
“First thing, of course, you are passionate about what you are doing,” Nadal said Wednesday after an easy 6-3, 6-4 victory over qualifier Filip Krajinovic launched him into the quarterfinals.
“Second thing, you are able to work on the prevention of injuries. Treat your body the right way. Third thing, of course, you’re still competitive to win important things. That’s the main thing too.”
Nadal can’t imagine playing into his late 30s. “But when I was 26 or 25, I was not able at that point to see me playing at the age of almost 33. So you never know,” he said.
Federer also reached the quarterfinals, brushing off poor-serving Kyle Edmund in an uneventful 6-1, 6-4 victory. Federer applauded the ability of older players to remain competitive.
“I think No. 1, you’ve got to be happy to be on tour,” he said. “It’s very simple, because usually you’re not at your career high ranking-wise anymore at that age. So you have to pick on something else that’s exciting for you, whatever that may be — travels, match play, practice, life on the road. So you’ve got to be passionate about what you do.”
He also attributed players’ longevity to better nutrition and training.
“Back in the day, all you took is a hot bath, ate a banana on the court. That was it,” Federer said. “Nowadays people do all sorts of crazy stuff. It’s interesting to see how the game has evolved.”
No. 4 Federer will face unseeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who upset a seeded player for the third straight match when he outlasted No. 24 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3. Nadal’s quarterfinal opponent will be No. 12 Karen Khachanov of Russia. Khachanov eliminated No. 8 John Isner of the U.S., 6-4, 7-6 (1). Federer and Nadal are on track for a 39th matchup; Nadal holds a 23-15 edge but Federer has won the last five in a row.
“I hope I can get there, but I’m not going to underestimate Hubert,” Federer said. “Yeah, Rafa looked supreme this week. He clearly also goes in as the favorite against Khachanov, but Khachanov played a good match just now against Isner. I think that’s also going to be quite a test for Rafa, but same for me with Hubert. I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead, to be honest.”
Isner’s exit extends the futility of American men here. The last American man to win the title here was Andre Agassi in 2001; the last to reach the final was Isner in 2012, when he lost to Federer.
In evening matches, No. 7 Dominic Thiem of Austria ended Karlovic’s run with a 6-4, 6-3 victory, and No. 18 Gael Monfils of France continued a strong season with a 6-0, 6-2 mastery of Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, who had upset No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the previous round. Thiem and Monfils will meet in the quarterfinals; Thiem holds a 4-0 career edge head-to-head, but each has also advanced once on a walkover.
Thursday’s featured matches
Top matches today at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells (play begins at 11 a.m.)
Belinda Bencic vs. Karolina Pliskova
Not before 1 p.m.
Milos Raonic vs. Miomir Kecmanovic
Not before 5 p.m.
Venus Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
Not before 7 p.m.