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Roger Federer Fights Into Eighth Indian Wells Final @ BNP Paribas Open

Roger Federer from Switzerland celebrates after defeating Borna Coric from Croatia at their semi-final match the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2018. EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON



Streaking across the purple patch of court, Roger Federer slashed a forehand pass that landed like a splash of yellow paint in the final game.


Down a break twice in the final set, Federer reeling off 11 straight points in a rousing 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 conquest of Borna Coric that sent the reigning champion into his eighth Indian Wells final.


This semifinal was more about heart than art, as Federer dialed back his aggression in breezy conditions and used his guile, legs and spins to spark his comeback.


It wasn’t always pretty, but it was often pretty gripping drama as Federer remained perfect in the place he calls paradise.


The Australian Open champion raised his 2018 record to 17-0—the best start to a season in his career.


Since the start of the 2017 season a revitalized Federer has soared to a 69-5 record with nine titles.


Unlike fellow world No. 1 Simona Halep’s listless capitulation last night, the Grand Slam showed grit, guts and pure determination playing comeback for much of this match against a zoning Coric, who was nearly flawless amid breezy conditions.


“I needed to fight a little bit, try to keep the ball in play and maybe not trying to do too much shot making, which was difficult in the wind,” Federer told ESPN’s Brad Gilbert afterward. “Borna was playing incredible. (In) those 10 minutes when he was up a set and a beak, it was tough for me to accept it… “


(It was) nothing fancy and maybe he’s gonna get nervous and I got lucky a little bit lucky too. And that’s what happened. It was a good match and a tough one for him.”


Continuing his quest for a 28th Masters 1000 crown, Federer will face either 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro or 2016 Indian Wells finalist Milos Raonic in tomorrow’s final.


Before a packed crowd that included Bill Gates, Sugar Ray Leonard and Hall of Famer and Federer fan Pete Sampras, who watched the match with his son from the front row, Federer launched his first pre-noon Indian Wells start in 12 years.


Initially, the early wake-up call did not deter the father of four.


Riding a nine-match Indian Wells winning streak into the semis, Federer was moving fluidly stamping a love hold for 2-1.


Prior to his Masters semifinal debut, Coric told ESPN’s Gilbert he had to play assertive tennis to test the defending champion.


Borna Coric from Croatia in action against Roger Federer from Switzerland during their semi final match at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2018. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

“I need to stay very aggressive, obviously I cannot just defend, I think that’s the main key,” Coric said.


Showing no trace of nerves, Coric clocked a crosscourt forehand capping a love hold for 3-all.


Playing quickly, Federer permitted just three points on serve streaming to a 5-4 lead after 28 minutes.


Still, Coric stayed in step sliding an ace down the T to level after 10 games.


The 20-year-old Croatian surprised SABR master by crunching a backhand return down the line, following it forward and knifing a forehand volley for break point. Federer saved it, but Coric came right back cranking a crosscourt forehand pass to break for 6-5 in a break that surprised some fans into silence.


Closing with conviction, Coric touched the line with a backhand forcing a netted reply from Federer. Coric won 19 of his final 21 service points capturing the 42-minute opener that snapped Federer’s 18-set Indian Wells’ winning streak.


If that uprising surprised some in the crowd, fans were stunned when Coric torched a backhand bolt crosscourt for break point then forced Federer into a stretched error—his third straight game to start the second set with a break.


Extending points with his speed around the court and driving the ball down the line when he had opportunity, Coric forced Federer to defend. The 20-time Grand Slam champion was on the stretch near the service line as Coric buzzed a low pass backing up the break for 2-0.


Coric’s forehand degenerated with a flurry of errors putting him in a triple break point hole.


Regaining his range, Coric slid a superb slice backhand past a sliding Federer to save the second break point then fired a forehand winner to draw even at deuce at the one-hour mark. Coric reeled off five straight points roaring through a crucial hold for 3-1.


Seeing the 21-year-old Croatian wasn’t cracking, Federer began moving forward in the court. He earned another break point in the sixth game, but Federer flew a forehand long and his backhand failed him as Coric held strong for 4-2.


Playing some deeper drives down the middle, Federer gained two more break points in the eighth game. Clipping the net twice with his backhand, the 36-year-old Swiss coaxed the error breaking back for 4-all spiking perhaps the loudest eruption of the tournament from the crowd.


Two games later, Coric tried staying true to his attacking vow only to see Federer bullet a backhand right back at him. Inexperienced at net, Coric ducked right instead of playing the high backhand volley only to see the ball land inside the baseline.


Roger Federer from Switzerland reacts in his semi-final match against Borna Coric from Croatia at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2018. EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON

Playing down the middle at times, Federer wielded his slice when stretched. When Coric spun a forehand long, Federer roared “come on!” snatching the second set to force a decider.


An adrenalized end to the second gave way to a hangover at the start of the third as Federer misfired on successive forehands in the wind gifting the love break.


Sprinting right, Federer extended the point with a sensational stretch forehand pass, breaking back when Coric bungled a forehand from the center of the court.


Credit Coric for erasing a break point curling his third ace that helped him hold in the fourth game.


In the critical seventh game, Federer denied break point with a slick bounce smash. Coric busted a backhand winner for a second break point and broke for the fourth time when Federer dragged a forehand wide.


A plane hovered overhead as Federer turned on the jets drawing an error for break point he celebrated with a loud “Allez!” When Coric dumped his second double fault, Federer was level, 4-all.


An audacious drop shot slathered with confounding spin sealed a love hold for 5-4 and Federer opened the final game with a bolt of brilliance.


A snazzy running forehand pass followed by a couple of errors gave Federer triple match point. Coric, who had fought so hard, tripped one final shot off the tape and watched it settle wide.


The game’s premier shotmaker showed defensive grit withstanding his toughest test of the tournament and now sets his sights on a 98th career title.

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