By Ros Satar, in Indian Wells

  • Pablo Carreno Busta [21] v Stan Wawrinka [3]
  • Roger Federer [9] v Jack Sock [17]
INDIAN WELLS, USA – We can be fairly sure this was not the semi-final line-up anyone expected as the tournament gallops towards its conclusion.

 

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Pablo Carreno Busta [21] v Stan Wawrinka [3] – H2H: Wawrinka leads 2-0

It has been quite the rise for Pablo Carreno Busta, who snapped a two-match finals losing spree last year, winning two titles in 2016, and already making a final this year. He will face someone who is now no stranger to finals, three-tie Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka who at times has found his way the hard way to the semi-final stage.

It may be a surprise that the Spaniard’s success did not come to him on the clay surface he favours, but actually on hard courts, and here he stands in his first ATP World Tour Masters semi-final. His path was not without a little drama either, as he ended Pablo Cuevas’ seven-match winning streak.

The Uruguayan had two match points on Carreno Busta, and missed his change to deny him a spot with his best result, but the aggressive style really paid off. He will need every ounce of that for facing Wawrinka – he too has had to fight for his place here. He escaped the clutches of lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka and had to do another Houdini act against Dominic Thiem.

At times his serving action has looked inhibited and even his trademark explosive backhand has lacked bite until the chips are down. Experience is very key here. Wawrinka won his first Masters title in Monte Carlo after losing in two Masters finals previously, not to mention winning three Grand Slam titles when he was most definitely the underdog.

Carreno Busta comes in with absolutely nothing to lose and the pressure will be on the No. 3 seed to salvage something from a draw which was ripped wide open when Andy Murray departed stage left in his opening round.

Prediction: Wawrinka in three sets.

 

BRITWATCH BREAKDOWN

Wawrinka v Carreno Busta

Stan Wawrinka [3] Pablo Carreno Busta [21]
·      Best performance in Indian Wells

·      Twice a quarter-finalist (2008, 2011)

·      Never been beyond the second round in Indian Wells (2016)
R1: BYE

R2: Peter Gojowczyk 75 62

R3: Robert Bautista Agut W/O)

R4: Dusan Lajovic 64 75(5)

QF: Pablo Cuevas 61 36 76(4)

R1: BYE

R2: Paolo Lorenzi 63 64

R3: Philipp Kohlschreiber 75 63

R4: Yoshihito Nishioka 36 63 76(4)

QF: Dominic Thiem 64 46 76(2)

Stadium 1
Not before 11:00am (6pm, BST)

 

Roger Federer [9] v Jack Sock [17] – H2H: Federer leads 2-0

We have never been a huge believer in astrology, we don’t even drink tea, but less read tea-leaves but there is a touch of the ‘Chosen One’ Harry Potter/Anakin Skywalker vibe going on with Roger Federer these days.

First he and Rafael Nadal roll back the clock and fight it out for the Australian Open title when all about them seemed to develop clay feet in all directions. Then while training for his comeback, the work Federer put into his backhand stroke, footwork and getting more comfortable with his racquet really paid off as he completely demolished Nadal, making him look quite ordinary in the process.

Then, on top of all that when Novak Djokovic’s two-time conqueror in 2017 alone, Nick Kyrgios pulled out on the morning before his match-up with Federer with suspected food poisoning, we were all for handing him a cloak of invincibility, never mind invisibility.

He will face Jack Sock who outlasted Kei Nishikori, who has actually been making his way quietly and efficiently through the draw. Sock was very much the aggressor in the first set, but as his level tailed off he showed why he should never show a dip in form to Nishikori, who levelled things up before tailing off pretty badly at the start of the decider.

His serving helped, obviously bus his short take-back and whipped forehand seemed very hard to read for the Japanese player, and that might be his best hope against Federer. By his own admission, Sock was overwhelmed the last times he had played Federer but there is something of a swagger that comes with being the last home hope standing in either side of the competition.

Of course he will have to play lights out tennis but with his doubles success as well he probably has the variety to at least mix up some of his shots and give Federer a different look of a ball.

Prediction: Federer in three sets.

BRITWATCH BREAKDOWN

Federer v Sock

Roger Federer [9] Jack Sock [17]
·      Four-time champion

·      Has not dropped a set throughout the tournement

·      First ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final

·      All three-setters so far, and twice came from a set down to win

R1: BYE

R2: Stephane Robert 62 61

R3: Steve Johnson 76(3) 76(4)

R4: Rafael Nadal 62 63

QF: Nick Krygios W/O

R1: BYE

R2: Henri Laaksonen 63 06 64

R3: Grigor Dimitrov 36 63 76(7)

R4: Malek Jaziri 46 76(1) 75

QF: Kei Nishikori 63 26 62

Stadium 1
Not before 12:30am (7:30pm, BST)

 

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