|Rafael Nadal congratulates victor Roger Federer after their semifinal at Indian Wells [AFP]
The forehand thundered, the backhand sizzled, the Swiss timing was back as Roger Federer steamrolled his way past Rafael Nadal and into the Indian Wells final.
Federer's blistering form this year shows no sign of slowing down as he goes for his third straight ATP title and the fourth of his career in the California desert in Sunday's final against 11th seeded John Isner.
The 30-year-old Swiss superstar renewed his rivalry with Spanish lefty Nadal on Saturday, hammering his sixth ace on the final point of the rain-disrupted match to close out Nadal 6-3, 6-4.
"I guess I had a no-lose mentality," said Federer, who said he has been battling a virus all week.
"I've not felt great this week. I didn't expect myself to play so well tonight, and this is sometimes when you can pull off the biggest wins of your career."
"I've not felt great this week. I didn't expect myself to play so well tonight, and this is sometimes when you can pull off the biggest wins of your career"
The start of the match was delayed for three and a half hours by rain, and there was a brief rain delay at match point.
"Obviously conditions were tough today, and against one of my greatest rivals, it's always nice if you come out on top," Federer said.
Federer faces American John Isner in the final who shocked world number one Novak Djokovic in their semi-final on Saturday.
Victory over Roger Federer in a Davis Cup tie last month gave him a timely confidence boost and his stunning 7-6 3-6 7-6 upset of Djokovic confirmed he was correct.
By powering past Djokovic, the 26-year-old American guaranteed he will rise to at least a career-high 10th in the rankings on Monday.
"I knew going into this year that I had the tools and I had the game to be able to at least compete with these guys," the 6ft-9in (2.05m) Isner told reporters after beating Djokovic for the first time in three meetings.
"I take the court, no matter who I'm playing, expecting to win and believing to win. There's really no reason to take the
court if I believe otherwise.
"So the win against Roger was very big for my confidence, and obviously this one will be very big for my confidence also. It was just a good day overall."
With Isner in bullish mood and Federer hoping to avenge his recent Davis Cup defeat, one expects a tightly fought final.