Day 9 at the Indian wells Open 2014 began with the quarterfinals of the top half. Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Milos Raonic was the first match up followed by Roger Federer vs Kevin Anderson being the second one.
The first match marked the continued dream run of Alexandr Dolgopolov who thrashed Milos Raonic in a 2 set match which was expected to be a tight contest. Dolgopolov soared past Raonic with a convincing scoreline of 6-3, 6-4 and made his first masters semifinals, repeatedly proving that his win against Rafael Nadal was not a fluke but a result of rigorous hard work. He blasted 6 aces against Raonic and in return the big serving machine Raonic could serve only 4 aces. This is Dolgopolov’s 2nd consecutive semi final this year.
Dolgopolov has shown is strength and excellence in the game.In the second match, the centre court witnessed the excellence and grace of Federer who ended Kevin Anderson’s dream run at the tournament. Federer demolished Anderson by 7-5, 6-1, making his 8th semifinal at this tournament and is yet to drop a set. The victory meant that Federer will crack back into the top 5 ranking no matter what will be the result of his semifinal match. Federer was on the driver’s seat right from the very beginning of the match and avenged the loss of his doubles partner, good friend and fellow compatriot Stan Wawrinka who lost to Anderson in pre quarters. Federer is looking in a very good shape and is showing no signs of fatigue even after playing doubles too where he has reached the semifinals as well. Federer is on a 10 match winning streak.
Dolgopolov and Federer have earned their semifinal spot and will fight it out against each other for their place in the final.
As we enter into the day 10, we have the remaining two quarterfinals to be played. The first one will be played between Julien Benetteau and Novak Djokovic.
The next will be between John Isner and Ernests Gulbis. My predictions for these matches are as follows:
1. Julien Benetteau vs  Novak Djokovic:
The Frenchman Benetteau has played quite a tournament here this year. He caused the upset of his compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in round 2 and also won his 3rd and 4th round matches without dropping a set. He comes into this match carrying great confidence he has gained by his performance. Novak Djokovic had a relatively tougher time on court than his quarterfinal opponent. He won the round 2 match in straight sets but was taken the distance in his last two rounds. In his round 4 match against Cilic he came back from one set deficit and registered another comeback victory. This is Djokovic’s 3rd quarterfinal in three tournaments he has played this year, teaming up with Boris Becker as his new coach. Lately Djokovic is struggling a little bit to find his rhythm but the Serbian is desperate to prove his mettle and win better.
Djokovic and Benetteau have played each other 6 times. The first time they played each other was back in 2006 right here in Indian Wells where Benetteau edged Djokovic. But after that loss the Serbian has never lost against the Frenchman. Their last meeting came at the 2012 US open.
Prediction: In this quarterfinal meet, Djokovic will make it to the semis only if he shows stronger and better performances than the previous one. He will have to start strong or else Benetteau may get better of him. I go for Djokovic in straight sets.
2.  Ernests Gulbis vs. John Isner:
The Latvian Gulbis has also played quite a tournament and has emerged as the new winner. In his last match he beat Feliciano Lopez in three sets. Before that he also beat the young and inspired Dimitrov in straight sets in the round of 32, coming back from one set deficit. Gulbis is currently enjoying his personal best form of the year.The last man carrying American hopes is John Isner. The 2012 runner up here has beaten all his opponents with ease, but Verdasco whom he beat in three tight sets in the round of 16.Isner is making his 2nd quarterfinal here, the first one being in 2012.
Gulbis and Isner have played each other thrice, the interesting part being that all three meetings have come on all the three surfaces (Grass, Clay, and Hard).Gulbis has beaten Isner twice but Isner has taken their last meeting at 2013 Valencia Open.
Prediction: I expect this match to be a tight slugfest. If Isner serves well, he might make the semis but if Gulbis carries on the inspired play, he might win and end American hopes for this tournament. I pick Isner to win in a tough contest.
The winner of these matches will join Federer and Dolgopolov in the Semifinals of the first Masters tournament this year. Another brilliant day at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is awaiting its players to come-play-win.
-Vishakha Khandelwal [Vishakha is a Tennis Analyst for Sportz Cosmos. You can reach her at the gmail id : sportzcosmos]