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Del Potro Joins Federer in Indian Wells Semi With Three-Set Win Over Kohlschreiber

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in action against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 16 March 2018. EPA-EFE/PAUL BUCK



By Ricky Dimon


Juan Martin Del Potro continued his BNP Paribas Open run by booking a semifinal spot with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber on Friday afternoon. Del Potro dropped serve twice in the opening set but raised his level dramatically thereafter to prevail in two hours and seven minutes.


“It wasn’t an easy match as everybody saw,” the Argentine assessed. “But I was waiting for my chance to find the way of the game, and I did after the first set. And then [I] improved a little bit and I found the way on my returns…. I played more aggressive with my two-handed backhands and I played more down the line. I think that was the big key, the big change of the match.”


The key for Del Potro on Saturday is to take care of his serve and take advantage of whatever opportunities may come in the return game, because he is going up against big-serving Milos Raonic. In the third quarterfinal (first on Friday), the Canadian toppled Sam Querrey 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.


Milos Raonic of Canada in action against Sam Querrey of USA during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 16 March 2018. EPA-EFE/PAUL BUCK

Thus the stage is set for a fourth career contest between Del Potro and Raonic. Raonic is leading the head-to-head series 2-1, with a 7-5, 6-4 victory at the 2013 Montreal Masters and a 6-3, 7-6(6) win last year in the Delray Beach semis. Del Potro’s lone success against the current world No. 38 came via a 7-6(5), 7-5 decision in the 2013 Tokyo final.


In this showdown between oft-injured stars, Del Potro is the healthier and more in-form competitor. He is 15-3 in 2018 with a title in Acapulco, a runner-up showing in Delray Beach, and wins so far this fortnight at the expense of Alex De Minaur, David Ferrer, Leonardo Mayer, and Kohlschreiber. Raonic had previously been just 3-3 this season, but he preceded his defeat of Querrey with victories over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Joao Sousa to go along with a walkover from Marcos Baghdatis.


Saturday’s first semifinal will pit defending champion Roger Federer against unseeded Borna Coric.


Aside from his one ATP title last year in Marrakech, Coric has enjoyed the two best events of his career in Dubai (2015) and Indian Wells (currently). His semifinal foe on each occasion? None other than Federer. In the previous battle between the two players, Federer cruised 6-2, 6-1 to end Coric’s Dubai run in unceremonious fashion. But the 21-year-old is looking more formidable now, and he has been especially on fire in the desert with wins against Donald Young, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Roberto Bautista Agut, Taylor Fritz, and Kevin Anderson.


Still, who can stop Federer this fortnight? Anyone? Perhaps Del Potro in the final, but even that is a long-shot. After all, the 36-year-old is a perfect 16-0 in 2018. Nobody has taken a set off him through four matches at this tournament.


Said Coric: “Roger… I don’t have to say anything. We all know him.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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