BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells 2018, semifinal: Roger Federer vs Borna Coric - Match of the year so far!!
What a match to set Federer's best personal record of 17-0 to start a season. This was a match which ebbed and flowed both ways and had 9 breaks of serve which Federer eventually won 5-7 6-4 6-4.
Set 1: 5-7 to Coric
Federer started the match slowly and was just able to win his service games while doing nothing on Coric's serve. It was well poised at 5 all and that's when Coric stepped it up and his cross court backhand to Federer's backhand was catching fire which eventually helped him to break the Swiss's serve. Coric definitely tried to copy the Djokovic's recipe of success against Federer in SW19 in the years 2014 and 2015 and it worked big time for the 21-year-old. Coric served out the set comfortably and did not over-celebrate like many of Federer's opponents who have fallen meekly to the great man after a great start. It was pretty evident from his gentle fist pump and steely eyes that he was determined to not focus on winning the 1st set.
Set 2: 6-4 to Federer
The World No.1 had to serve better than the 52% of 1st servers in the 1st set if he had any chance of staying in the match. But it did not start well for the maestro as he was broken easily in the 1st game of the 2nd set. Coric held his serve pretty easily and took a 0-2 lead quickly. Roger knew it was not one of the days where he turns up to a game and wins it comfortably, he had to fight for this one and fight he did. He had 3 break points in the 4th game of the set and the Croat managed to save them all and won the game with 5 points on the trot. Federer's own serve was getting slightly better which meant he was getting more free points off his serve. Once again in the 6th game, the 21 year from Croatia was under the pump at 30-40. But once Coric kept his cool and attacked the Federer's backhand which faltered for the umpteenth time in the match. So it was 2-4 in the 2nd set which meant the great man had just 2 more opportunities to break Coric.
Having wasted 4 break point opportunities across 2 service games of Coric a lesser mortal might have thrown in the towel, not Federer. He made an important tactical adjustment to his game, till 2-4 in the 2nd set he was going for backhand offensively even though it was failing miserably. From the 7th game, he chose to use his slice more and that reaped benefits in the 8th game where he sliced his way to equal the set at 4 all. After that, he went onto win the next 2 games comfortably to win the set 6-4 as his slice started to frustrate the 21yr-old which led to many unforced errors. The oldest World No1 had made just 4 unforced errors in the last four games of the set.
Set 3: 6-4 to Federer
Everyone would have thought Roger might reel of the final set as he so often does once he gets his momentum and mojo back, but that was not the case as Federer lost his serve to love. He immediately broke back but once again Coric started to look good as Federer returned to use his single-handed back cross court offensively even though it was not doing much damage to Coric's backhand. At 3 all Federer was broken with the wind picking up and helping the Croat break serve. Once again it was Deja Vu for Federer, he had 2 opportunities to break Coric serve to stay in the match and he did it in sublime fashion in the 8th game of the set.
He made Coric run from pillar to post and used his single-handed backhand more effectively as he started to mix it up with the down the line ones as well.Coric double-faulted to make it 4 all, his first of the match. Finally, the FedExpress had arrived winning the last 2 games comfortably and for the first time in the match, Coric's shoulders drooped when he was 0-40 in the 10th game facing 3 match points. Federer took his first opportunity of match point and was through to the final in which he will face the Argentine Del Potro who himself is on 11 match-winning streak. For Coric, it was a great week in which qualified for his 1st master's Semis and almost pulled off a heist against the World No1. The Big Question will be whether the 36yr-old will feel the effects of this gruelling 2 and a half hour match as he will be back on the court within 24hrs for the finals.