Indian Wells Day 9 review: Federer sets up Dolgopolov clash, Li to play Pennetta
- In Indian Wells, Roger Federer defeated Kevin Anderson to set up a semifinal clash against Alexandr Dolgopolov, while Li Na will play Flavia Pennetta.
Day 9 in the Californian desert had quarterfinal action in both the men’s and women’s sections. Here’s a look at the biggest results:
17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, buoyed by plenty of vocal crowd support, notched up a relatively comfortable win during which he played some typically elegant tennis. But in the first set, at least for the first 10 games, not much separated Federer and Kevin Anderson, as the South African pounded his big serve and forehand to hold serve with ease. All Federer needed was one slip-up from the 6 foot 8 inch Anderson and he duly took the opportunity to break him at 5-5 and take control of the set and the match. Federer never looked back from there and raced through the second set, 6-1. The Swiss unleashed some of his patented graceful strokes en-route to the finish line.
Federer now plays Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov continued his fabulous run, which includes a win over World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, with a straight sets win over Canadian, and Murray conqueror Milos Raonic. Raonic, a big server, admitted that his serve was countered with ease during the match and that showed, as Dolgpolov’s returns made Raonic’s serve look surprisingly ineffective. Dolgpolov deservedly advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-3 6-4 win. This will be the Ukrainian’s first Masters semi-final.
Prediction for the semifinal: I’m being bold, but I’ll take Dolgopolov to win over Federer in three sets.
Top seed and Australian Open champion Li Na advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 win in an extremely scrappy 2 hours 35 minutes that saw a total of 32 break points (10 converted) and a combined total of 110 unforced errors. Li’s partner in crime in this mess of a match was Dominika Cibulkova. That’s right, this is what the Aussie Open final rematch brought us – a wild match with too many unpredictable momentum shifts.
It was a classic match (or mis-match) between two exceptionally talented and erratic women who only occasionally put up their best tennis. In the first set Li went on a surprising six-game winning run to take home the set. But in the second, she played as if she were hypnotized and fell into a hole, going down 1-5. Cibulkova held on, barely, as she took the set 6-4. At 3-3 in the third set Li was down 15-40 and that’s when she showed the true character of a champion to save both break points, hold serve and then win the match without losing another game.
In the semifinals Li plays veteran Italian Flavia Pennetta. The 32-year-old defeated Sloane Stephens in another wild match. Fun fact: the Pennetta-Stephens clash had 112 unforced errors compared to Li-Cibulkova’s 110, but had three less break points. In a match between the old guard and the new guard, there was no real momentum from either player with Pennetta ending the it with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 win over home-town heroine Sloane Stephens.
Stephens might have had extra motivation, being the up-and-coming player and also maybe trying to exact revenge for her country’s loss in the Fed Cup to the Italians. Pennetta was tight on her serve in the first two sets, but she made the break she that got in the first stick. She did, however, lose the second as her serve went out of her control towards the end. Stephens was down 4-5 in the second but she went on a 6-game winning streak to win the set and take a 3-0 lead in the third. But Pennetta recovered well to make it 3-3 and then broke Stephens at love in the 10th game. She needed four match points to win, but the important part is she won and is in the semi-finals.
Prediction for the semifinal: Li leads the head-to-head 3-2 and I think will defeat Pennetta in another wild three-setter. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this is a very hard match to predict.Published 14 Mar 2014, 13:27 IST