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Federer, Nadal set up early showdown

The Associated Press INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Roger Federer edged Steve Johnson 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) 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 209 kph — and never faced a break point against Johnson, who reached 217 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, where he’s won three titles but none since 2013.

Five-time 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.

“The third set was the best tennis I’ve played this year probably,” Djokovic said. “I’m just hoping I can carry this confidence, especially on the return, to tomorrow’s match because I’m going to need that.”

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

Venus Williams advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001 with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Shuai Peng, the last remaining qualifier in the draw.

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