Federer, Nadal set up clash; Kerber out

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 Elena Vesnina hits a backhand return to Angelique Kerber of Germany during their BNP Paribas Open fourth-round match in Indian Wells, California, on Tuesday. The Russian cruised to shock 6-3, 6-3 victory over the second seed.

Roger Federer edged Steve Johnson 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) in a hard-serving duel at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday, setting up a fourth-round match against Rafael Nadal.

Federer fired 12 aces — his fastest serve registering 131 mph — and never faced a break point against Johnson, who reached 136 on the radar gun and fought off all four break points against him.

Nadal advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 win against 26th-seeded Fernando Verdasco for his 50th career victory at the desert tournament in California, where he's won three titles but none since 2013.

Five-time Indian Wells winner Novak Djokovic defeated 2013 finalist Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 and next faces Nick Kyrgios in the same quarter of the draw as Federer and Nadal.

On the women's side, No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber lost to 14th-seeded Russian Elena Vesnina 3-6, 3-6 in the fourth round. Kerber is assured of retaking the No. 1 ranking from injured Serena Williams next week.

No. 9 Madison Keys was beaten by 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 4-6.

Venus Williams advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001 with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over China's Peng Shuai, the last remaining qualifier in the draw. She had 40 winners, 40 unforced errors and won the final four games of the match after trailing 2-3.

Williams ended her 15-year boycott of the event last year, when she lost in the second round.

Federer is a four-time champion at Indian Wells who won his last title in 2012. He defeated Nadal in the Australian Open final in January for his record 18th grand slam title. Their meeting today will be the earliest they have played since their first match in 2004 at Miami, where Nadal won.

"Because it's early in the tournament, I think we both don't quite yet know to 100 percent how everything feels," Federer said. "There is a bit of the unknown, which is exciting maybe for the fans to see how we're going to try to figure that part out."

Nadal called it unlucky that he and Federer were to play before the quarterfinals. The Spaniard leads the rivalry 23-12, including a 9-8 edge on hardcourts.

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who beat Ukraine's No. 10 Elina Svitolina 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-0, planned to watch the latest chapter in the Federer-Nadal rivalry.

"I think everybody is going to watch that match," she said. "Everybody likes Rafa. Everybody likes Roger. It's history over there."

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