Roger Federer of Switzerland plays during the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Saturday in Indian Wells, California. -AFP
Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka set up an all-Swiss showdown for the ATP Indian Wells Masters title on Saturday with straight-sets semi-final victories. Federer, who won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, subdued 17th-seeded American Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) to earn a crack at a record-equalling fifth Indian Wells title. US Open champion Wawrinka, past the quarter-finals in the California desert for the first time, knocked out Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2.
Federer went into his clash with Sock well-rested after ailing Aussie Nick Kyrgios pulled out of their highly anticipated quarter-final. Federer, who had trounced old foe Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round, picked up right where he left off as he raced through the first set in 21 minutes.
But Sock, winner of two titles already this year at Auckland and Delray Beach, raised his game in the second set, saving a break point in the seventh game as it went on serve to the tiebreaker. The American energized US fans on Stadium Court when he zinged a backhand winner past Federer for a 3-1 lead in the decider. But Federer won six of the next seven points, including the last three, as he sealed the contest on his first opportunity. "I think I definitely played great in the first set, came out and really saw the ball well," Federer said.
"I think Jack didn't have his best first set, but I found a way to take advantage of that quickly, hardly made any mistakes and was able to press. "The second set was more like what I expected the first set to be. It was hard to break and return well off Jack's heavy serve. I maybe dropped my level just a bit, as well, as he lifted his.
-AFP, Indian Wells