He did not play well, he was on the ropes, but the Swiss Roger Federer was reborn from his ashes this Saturday to win the semi-finals of Indian Wells Masters 1000 to the young Croatian Borna Coric.
Federer, the first racket in the world, showed why he should never be left for dead: the Swiss looked defeat in the eye and refused to accept his fate to finish winning the match 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes of play.
Now, in the final will face the winner of the other semi, which measures the Argentine Juan Martin del Potro and the Canadian Milos Raonic.
The clash began at 11h00 local (18H00 GMT) under intense sun and strong wind. Federer had already warned that playing so early did not benefit him and thus ended up proving.
Coric, more awake and active, was not able to damage the Swiss with his serve but also had no problems to beat him with his.
That’s how the games went on. Federer won three of his first four services with blank games while the Croatian was outpacing his pair with little suffering.
Until in the eleventh everything changed. Coric enjoyed two ‘break’ balls, missed the first but did not forgive the second, winning the set next.
The surprise jumped momentarily. But when Federer is in front of you, you can never trust yourself. And Coric knew it.
Federer had only achieved 51% of his first services in the first round, by 76% of his opponent. It showed.
The second set started just as the previous set had finished: with a break for Coric.
In the room they could change the tables. The ‘Swiss Express’ had up to three ‘break’ balls with 0-40 in favor. But it was not his day, he lost them all and ended up yielding the game.
Also in the sixth he was close to scratching a game with his opponent’s serve, with another breaker ball that he was not able to materialize again.
On a normal day, Federer does not forgive. This Saturday he did it up to four times in a row. Neither was reliable with his service and crashed several balls in the net improper him.
It was not his day and in the other corner he found a hungry adversary.
But one does not end with Federer until the game is over and he is in the locker room. Celebrating before time is a recklessness. Coric had the victory at his reach with 4-3 and came out in favor. He hesitated a few seconds and squandered his advantage. In an instant, Federer had taken the sleeve 6-4.
The third repeated the same script as the previous ones: Coric again had the triumph within reach of the fingers with 4-3 and service. But he did not know how to make it concrete and a few minutes later he woke up from his dream.
Federer, as usual, was the winner and this Sunday he will try to win the tournament for the sixth time in his career.
Del Potro rolls to Raonic
The Argentine Juan Martin del Potro swept the Canadian Milos Raonic on Saturday and will play the final of the Masters 1000 of Indian Wells against the Swiss Roger Federer. Del Potro, sixth seed, passed over his rival in straight sets of 6-2, 6-3 in just one hour and six minutes of play.
Unlike his last two games, against compatriot Leonardo Mayer in the fourth round and against the German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals, ‘Delpo’ found his rhythm from the beginning.
The one of Tandil and the Canadian had faced previously in two occasions, with a balance of 2-1 for the North American. But their last clash was from 2017, in Delray Beach, and the previous two had been in 2013. This was going to be another story.
The Argentine had struggled to start their last games well, giving in both cases the first set and having to throw epic in the next two to stand in the semifinals.
But this Saturday everything went to his face. He started concentrated, well planted on the track and safely on his serve. No trace of the back pains that had weighed him in previous days.
He was fresh and with only one goal in mind: to repeat the final in Indian Wells after having fallen in 2013 against the Spanish Rafael Nadal. His rival, persecuted by injuries in the last season, was the opposite. He never became inspired. Since his second serve was revealed.
Del Potro took advantage of the first ‘break point’ in his favor and became 2-1. Then he did the same in the fifth and closed the first set with a final 6-2 in 27 minutes. In a seen and not seen the ‘Torre de Tandil’ caressed the final dreamed by all present in the center court.
The albiceleste signed only two ‘aces’ but excelled with 93% of the points scored with his first service (14/15) and 66% effective in break balls (2/3).
In the second set the walk continued, with another break in the third game and a final 6-3 that returned Del Potro to a final 15 days after winning the Mexican Open tennis, in Acapulco.