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Indian Wells: Roger Federer beats Hubert Hurkacz to set up possible Rafael Nadal semi-final

  • Posted: Mar 15, 2019

Roger Federer beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets to reach the semi-finals at Indian Wells.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, 37, won 6-4 6-4 victory in one hour and 13 minutes.

The Swiss, a five-time winner in California, could next face Rafael Nadal, should the Spanish second seed beat Karen Khachanov later on Friday.

“I’m very pleased with my performance and I’m excited,” said Federer, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

World number four Federer took charge by breaking Hurkacz, 22, in the fifth game of the match before doing so again in the third game of the second set and saving both break points on his own serve.

Federer has not played Nadal since beating him in the Shanghai Masters final in October 2017.

“The fans are maybe more excited about us playing than me as I’ve always got to be focused on my own game,” added Federer.

“If I do play Rafa then it always brings extra energy into the stadium and for the both of us.”

In Saturday’s other semi-final, Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem will face Canada’s 13th seed Milos Raonic.

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Indian Wells: Angelique Kerber defeats Venus Williams, Thiem also through to semis

  • Posted: Mar 15, 2019

World number eight Angelique Kerber defeated Venus Williams to reach the semi-finals at Indian Wells.

The 31-year-old German clinched her third semi-final in the event with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 win over American Williams in one hour 36 minutes.

In the men’s singles, Frenchman Gael Monfils was forced to withdraw from his quarter-final against Dominic Thiem after suffering an Achilles injury.

Austria’s Thiem, 25, will face Canada’s Milos Raonic in Saturday’s semi-final.

Raonic dominated Serbian teenager Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3 6-4 following 13 aces to reach his second consecutive Indian Wells semi-final.

Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam winner, triumphed in the first set thanks to a dramatic tie-break that featured four breaks of serve.

In the semi-final, she will face in-form Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who reached the semis after a 12-match winning streak including a quarter-final win over Karolína Plískova.

“Venus is just such a great player and an amazing champion,” Kerber said about her opponent, who came on to the court with a heavily taped right knee.

“It’s always an honour to share the court with her. She’s still playing at such a high level.”

World number seven Thiem advanced to his first semi-finals at Indian Wells without hitting a ball after Monfils’ withdrawal. He previously reached the quarters in 2017.

“I tried to warm up and my left Achilles was very painful for a couple days,” Monfils told the crowd.

“And this morning, it was really tough for me to run at 100%, and tonight I tried to hit a little bit and I cannot compete 100% tonight.

“I’m so sorry, guys, to put you in this situation, and I so thank you for everything you gave me this week and, again, I’m sorry.”

Elsewhere, Canadian Bianca Andreescu and Elina Svitolina of Ukraine play in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be vying to set up a blockbuster semi-final when they play in the remaining two quarter-finals on Friday.

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Raonic, With Power & Variety, Seeks Masters 1000 Glory

  • Posted: Mar 15, 2019

Raonic, With Power & Variety, Seeks Masters 1000 Glory

Canadian going for first title since 2016 Brisbane

To address the elephant in the room: Fabrice Santoro will not be changing Milos Raonic’s forehand to a two-hander, nor will he be proposing the Canadian work on his tweeners or make his net game more cheeky.

The Frenchman, who started working with Raonic two weeks ago, confirmed to that he doesn’t plan on Santorising the Canadian’s power game during their one-month trial period.

I’m not sure it’s the best option for him to win matches,” Santoro said in between laughs. “With his power, it would be a bad idea.”

But if you’ve watched Raonic reach his fourth BNP Paribas Open semi-final this week, you’ve seen glimpses of the Frenchman’s effect. Take, for instance, 4-3, 40/40 point in the second set of Raonic’s quarter-final against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

The 6’5” Canadian fed the 19-year-old a cocktail mixture of inside-out forehands and backhand slices, and the third and final slice faded away from Kecmanovic. The backhand slice is a weapon he and his new coach have discussed extensively.

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“Everybody moves extremely well laterally. Sometimes you can try to get glimpses of better looks by trying to bring them in a bit more,” Raonic said. “Fabrice has put quite a bit of attention on it. Sometimes I do it too much, but it’s a good option to have.”

The added variety is the latest evolution in Raonic’s game as the Canadian, a frequent tinkerer of his style and coaching staff, searches for what will help him scale the proverbial hump and win a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam title.

The 28-year-old has been as high as No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and played in the 2016 Wimbledon final, along with three Masters 1000 title matches – 2013 Canada, 2014 Paris and 2016 Indian Wells. But a Big Title has eluded Raonic, along with most of the ATP Tour.

From the 2008 Mutua Madrid Open to the 2017 edition, nearly 90 per cent (69/78) of the Masters 1000 titles were won by the Big Four – Novak Djokovic (26), Rafael Nadal (18), Andy Murray (13) and Roger Federer (12). But since Madrid 2017, a crevice has formed: Six players have won their maiden Masters 1000 title. Raonic hopes to make it seven this weekend.

It would be there… parallel to the Wimbledon final, if not higher, just because it’s going through a week amongst the best players in the world without ending with a loss,” Raonic said of winning a Masters 1000 title.

It’s not easy to do, especially not the ones at the beginning of the year, these two [Indian Wells and Miami], because guys have a lot of time. Nobody is really rushing here. Guys can bring their best tennis.”

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Early in his career, Raonic focused on improving his baseline game and lateral movement. The Tour was comprised of great movers who could rally all day from the back of the court. But that style took him only so far.

I think that got me to the point where I was on the brink of the Top 10, I even squeezed into the Top 10 for a little bit. But I wasn’t having the success I wanted at the bigger moments, and I sat back and sort of thought, ‘What do I need to do better?’” he said.

A 6’5” power player skidding from alley to alley didn’t make much sense.

I didn’t think that would suit my size or my abilities or my strengths to play that way,” Raonic said. “So I felt like it was natural for me to focus on moving forward, to take time away from my opponents, give them looks that they don’t get too often throughout the year and try to keep them off balance in that way.”

<a href=''>Milos Raonic</a> has been using his backhand slice well in Indian Wells

Raonic’s backhand slice has been a focus of his work with new coach Fabrice Santoro. (Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour)

In the first five years of his career, Raonic hit only about 2,000 volleys. But in the past few years, he’s hit tens of thousands of volleys and his practices have revolved around net play.

Last year, however, as he worked with 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, Raonic reached only one Masters 1000 or Grand Slam semi-final (Miami). He recently called Santoro, and the two agreed on a new path.

More attacking, more mixing up my shots, not being predictable in the sense of not hitting the same ball twice,” Raonic said.

Initially, the hire turned heads. Santoro, The Magician, working with Raonic? But six-time ATP Tour titlist, who also works with the net-charging Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, is eager for the challenge, even if his new player won’t be imitating his two-handed forehand slice or trying any of his trick shots.

He’s a hard worker, he’s very professional and he has a big ambition – so it’s very easy to work with someone who works hard and has a big ambition,” Santoro told “But still, I think he didn’t reach 100 per cent of his potential. He can improve a few more things, and that’s why I am here.”

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