Sat, Mar 15, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Federer cruises to Indian Wells semis

RUTHLESS ROGER:Federer next faces Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, while on the women’s side Flavia Pennetta survived a dust storm to set up a semi-final against Li Na

AP, INDIAN WELLS, California

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns to Kevin Anderson of South Africa in their BNP Paribas Open quarter-final in Indian Wells, California, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

Roger Federer beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday, continuing his strong play at the tournament where he has yet to drop a set in four matches.

Anderson failed to break Federer’s serve in the match, which lasted just over an hour. The South African had 21 unforced errors, while Federer hit 17 winners and won 79 percent of his first-serve points.

A four-time Indian Wells champion, Federer next plays Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semi-finals. Dolgopolov beat Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-4.

On the women’s side, top seed Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a rematch of their Australian Open final. She next plays Flavia Pennetta, who defeated Sloane Stephens 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in Thursday’s other quarter-final.

Federer earned the only break in the first set in the last game when Anderson netted a backhand volley.

The Swiss star then broke Anderson twice to take a 4-0 lead in the second set. Anderson did his best to trade ground-strokes with Federer, while looking for an opening to rush the net, but the South African’s repeated errors spoiled his game plan.

“It was big to win the [first] set and then to go on to break early in the second,” Federer said. “Then double break was like a bonus. From then on I was home, basically. It was a really good match for me.”

Dolgopolov’s win assured the Ukrainian of rising to a projected No. 23 in next week’s ATP Tour rankings. He has already made the biggest jump in the top 50 this year, moving up 26 spots to No. 31 before the tournament began.

“Obviously, if you’re ranked 20, 30, 40, you’re a good enough player. To get in the top 10 you just need all those small things to be together and to be solid,” Dolgopolov said. “It’s really small differences from the players that are top 10 and top 50.”

Dolgopolov improved to 6-2 against top-20 opponents this year, including his third-round win over world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

Li, who beat Cibulkova to win her second Grand Slam title in January, dropped her first set in four matches, while improving to 15-1 this year.

The Chinese star is seeded No. 1 for the first time at a large WTA Tour event.

“Not like before if I come here, maybe like No. 6 or No. 7 seed, but I think I am handling very well, so just continue,” Li said.

Li rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to close to 5-4, before Cibulkova called for her coach. After they huddled, the Slovak player held to even the match at a set apiece.

They traded breaks to open the third. Cibulkova then survived a service game that went to deuce seven times and staved off four break points to level the score at 2-2.

Li swept the final three games, though, to seal the victory.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t win because I had my chances,” Cibulkova said. “My serve was just not there. Maybe I tried to go for too much. Her serve was much better than mine.”

Pennetta emerged victorious after a wildly uneven match affected by swirling winds in the third set from a dust storm outside the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“The third was a disaster for both of us,” Pennetta said.

Stephens was the lone American woman left in the tournament, enjoying her best showing of the year so far. She appeared poised to move on after winning six straight games over the end of the second set and the start of the third to take a 3-0 lead in the decider, but the Italian, who at 32 is 12 years older than Stephens, won six of the final seven games, breaking the American to love in one of those games.

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