Indian Wells 2017 semi-final preview: Roger Federer takes on Jack Sock, could set up Wawrinka final
Former World No. 1 Roger Federer received a walkover into the semi-final after his quarter-final opponent, Australian ace Nick Kyrgios, withdrew at the last minute with a bout of food poisoning. Now, the Swiss will take on young American power-hitter Jack Sock, who upset Japanese World No. 5 Kei Nishikori in his own quarter-final.
Sock, ranked 18th in the world, won the Delray Beach Open title this year after making the finals, where he had been due to face Milos Raonic; the Canadian withdrew from the final with injury.
The pair have met twice before on the professional circuit, both times in 2015 – with Federer winning in straight sets both times, and with near-identical scorelines. In fact, their debut meeting was at this very venue – but earlier, in the Round of 16, with Federer winning 6-3, 6-2.
On the basis of their past two matches – and his own unstoppable form, it’s easy to give this one to Federer. Sock, though, is reminiscent of one of Federer’s oldest foes – former Number One Andy Roddick, in that the pair are both intensely reliant on their serves. Like Roddick, Sock has quick, accurate serves that are also very consistent, especially at the net.
A good returner, Sock relies much on his forehand and serve. The 24-year-old is quick on his feet too, and moves throughout the court for his shots, but does not come to the net often. Should Federer, a proficient serve-and-volleyer, choose to do so, it’s safe to say Sock will at least be able to handle it fairly effectively.
Federer often likes to send rivals across the court with perhaps the most accurate shot placement seen in tennis, and for players not blessed with flexibility like the tall Gael Monfils, speed and agility are valuable tools in retrieving those shots – something Sock could do well.
In a battle of the forehands, Federer would beat any of the best in history, hands down – no contest there! Sock may have youth on his side but Federer, at 35, is playing some of the best tennis of his life after a six-month break and should coast through this semi-final.
A seemingly lopsided draw in terms of rankings means that 21st seed Pablo Carreno Busta will take on No 3 seed Stan Wawrinka in the other semi-final, with Wawrinka the second-highest ranked player in the top half of the draw, which saw Andy Murray suffer an early exit at the hands of Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil in his first match.
Sock’s serve also has elements of Rafael Nadal in it – in that like the Spaniard, the American likes to play topspin-heavy shots, which are very effective on hard-courts; considering how completely Nadal went down to Federer in the pre-quarters, though, we think it’s safe to say that Federer should see this one through with ease.
That sets up a likely clash in the finals between Federer’s close friend, compatriot, Olympic teammate and many-time rival Stan Wawrinka – whom Federer has defeated nineteen times of their twenty-two meetings.
It might probably be safe to say at this point that 2017 Australian Open champion should have a comfortable road to the trophy – which he has won four times already.