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Federer unstoppable in desert heat

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, which he won on Sunday.

Federer unstoppable in desert heat
John Togasaki

Federer’s blistering form this year showed no sign of slowing down as he claimed his third straight ATP title and the fourth of his career in the California desert with a 7-6, 6-3 victory in Sunday’s final against 11th seeded John Isner.

A day earlier, the 30-year-old Swiss superstar renewed his rivalry with Spanish lefty Nadal, hammering his sixth ace on the final point of the rain-disrupted match to close out the match 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.”

One of the sport’s great rivalries was on display between 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer and reigning French Open champ Nadal. It is always entertaining and full of surprises when the two tennis giants meet and this time was no different.

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.

“I’m very happy with my game and happy that my body is holding up and mentally I’m still fresh, which is very surprising.”

Federer had a few extra minutes to think about what turned out to be his final ace after officials called the two off the court as he served for the match.

He returned a few moments later and hammered the final nail in the coffin — a 125 mph sizzler.

This was not the first time Federer has had to collect his thoughts during an unexpected delay in a match against Nadal.

“It just actually did happen against Rafa at the Australian Open,” Federer said of his four set semi-final loss to Nadal in Melbourne. “There were fireworks and I came back and couldn’t play anymore.

“It was like unbelievable. Fireworks and rain are not the same thing, but it was an interruption, even though I didn’t think of that too much.

“It was tough but at the end, once match point was over, everything was short-lived.

“It was one of those great moments that me and Rafa shared again after having already had so many great matches against each other.”

Despite the defeat, Nadal still has the career edge over Federer having won 18 times, including four of the last six. Federer has beaten Nadal 10 times.

“I tried. I fought until the last ball,” Nadal said. “I lost against a player who played better than me this afternoon.”

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SPORT

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.

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