March 15 (Reuters) - Roger Federer stayed on course to face long-time rival Rafa Nadal when he beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals at Indian Wells, California on Friday.
Federer broke his 67th-ranked Polish opponent once in each set and that was all the Swiss needed to prevail in just over an hour on the outdoor hardcourt.
It was the first match between the pair and far from one-sided, as Hurkacz had two break points but could seize neither.
“I was trying to fight, compete and believe I can do it,” Hurkacz told reporters. “Roger was playing great in the crucial moments. I had some small chances in the second set.
“He’s changing directions all the time (with his serve) so it’s really hard to read it.”
Next up on Saturday for fourth seed Federer will be his 39th career encounter with Nadal, provided the Spaniard wins his quarter-final against Russian Karen Khachanov later on Friday.
Nadal leads Federer 23-15 on a head-to-head basis but the Swiss has won the past five encounters.
They have not met since Shanghai in 2017, the same year that Federer beat Nadal 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round at Indian Wells.
The other semi-final will match Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem and Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)