INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Dominic Thiem outlasted Canadian Milos Raonic in three sets Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final, where he'll meet Roger Federer who advanced after Rafael Nadal withdrew with a knee injury.
Thiem dispatched the No. 13 seed from Thornhill, Ont., 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-4 to advance to the championship game. The No. 7 seed from Austria will take on Federer, who didn't have to hit a ball to reach the final.
"Definitely some things I would have liked to do better, but I thought, you know, I competed and I tried to figure things out as best as I could," said Raonic, who has made it to at least the quarterfinals at this event in the past five appearances. "Sort of the way it goes.
"He played well. He did the things smart, and he did the things better at the end."
Raonic missed a chance to make it a true Canada day on championship Sunday.
Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., will face Angelique Kerber of Germany in the women's final.
Raonic had won his previous two matches against Thiem, but didn't have the same success on Saturday.
"He wasn't missing many first serves. He was pushing me back, and then he was aggressive from the very first ball," Raonic said. "There wasn't many times that I got to be on the offensive on the return games, and, when I did, I wasn't efficient about taking advantage of it.
"But, you know, we have played a few times now, and it's sort of been the same thing. He had opportunities today to break me. He used one of them."
"I warm up today in the morning, and I felt that my knee was not enough good to compete at the level that I need to compete," he said.
Nadal's right knee flared up in the second set of his 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) victory over Karen Khachanov in Friday's quarterfinals. He twice called for a trainer, who applied tape just below Nadal's knee. It was obvious that Nadal's movement was hampered.
Nadal said he won't play again until the Monte-Carlo Masters on clay in mid-April.
"I don't have doubts today that I will be ready for Monte Carlo," he said.
Knee problems have dogged the 32-year-old Spaniard for years, and they cut short his 2018 season after the U.S. Open in September. He was forced to quit two sets into his semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro.
Nadal choked up discussing his withdrawal last fall, and he appeared near tears Saturday.
He admitted he sometimes is sad because he feels at a disadvantage against his opponents due to his continued knee issues that force him to limit his time practising and playing.
Then he gathered himself, saying, "It's not the moment to complain much. With all this stuff, I still where I am today."
The year began promisingly enough. Nadal didn't drop a set in reaching his fifth Australian Open final, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. He's ranked No. 2 in the world and has a match record of 11-2.
"Still tough because I felt more or less OK during this beginning of the season in terms of my knee," he said. "Now it starts the process that I have to decide what direction we have to take to recover well and to recover as soon as possible."
Even with all of his injuries, Nadal indicated he has no intention of giving up playing on hard courts, the surface for two of the four Grand Slam events.
"My goal is to play on all the surfaces," he said.
It would have been the 39th career meeting between Nadal and Federer, who advances to Sunday's final in pursuit of a record sixth title at Indian Wells.
Beth Harris, The Associated Press