Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka are within a win away from setting up only the second all Swiss Masters1000 final (2014 Monte Carlo was the first) after both advanced in contrasting fashion into the last four at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. While Wawrinka had to fight all the way for the second match in a row to beat the Austrian Dominic Thiem, Federer progressed without hitting a ball as his quarter final opponent Nick Kyrgios of Australia withdrew owing to a a virus caused by food poisoning.
The four time champion Roger Federer, seeded ninth, who had upset the fifth seeded Rafael Nadal on Wednesday in straight sets, was slated to meet the explosive Nick Kyrgios who was coming off his second win, in two weeks, over second seeded Novak Djokovic. Kyrgios withdrew ahead of his eagerly anticipated showdown against the Australian Open champion. Federer next faces the 18th ranked American Jack Sock who registered his first ever top five career win over the fourth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
It will be his first appperance in the semi final of a Masters series event, Federer has won both their meetings in straight sets in 2015. Sock, the highest ranked American has won two titles this year in Auckland and in Delray Beach and is 15-2 for the year. Sock, who saved four match points before beating Grigor Dmitrov in the round of 32, and was within two points of losing to the Tunisian Malek Jaziri, was under pressure early in the first game of the match as he came back from 15-40 down on serve in the first game.
The 17th seed then broke Nishikori in the next game and went on to seal the first set easily at 6-3. The fifth ranked Nishikori broke in the fourth and eighth game of the second set to force a decider. Sock regained control of the match breaking in the first game of the third set and then in the fifth game before clinching the win in one hour and forty eight minutes.
Earlier on Thursday, the 21st seeded Pablo Carreno Busta saved two match points against the 27th seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and also entered his first career semi final at an ATP 1000 event as he won 6-1,3-6,7-6(4) in two hours and four minutes.
He will play the third seeded Wawrinka in the first semi final on Saturday after the Swiss won a gruelling two hour and thirty one minute duel against the eighth seeded Thiem. Wawrinka had beaten Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the earlier round breaking serve twice as the lucky loser Nishioka failed to serve out the match in the third set. Wawrinka took the first set 6-4 and Thiem also took the second 6-4 to force a decider. Wawrinka was the first to break but Thiem broke right back and it went to a tie-break before Wawrinka claimed it 7-2.
Following is the line up of the semi final with my pick mentioned first:-
Stanislas Wawrinka (3) (11-3) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (21) (15-6); Wawrinka leads 2-0
Roger Federer (2) (11-1) v. Jack Sock (17) (15-2); Federer leads 2-0
Federer is assured of moving to number seven in the ranking and if he wins his fifth title on Sunday he will overtake his Spanish arch rival Rafael Nadal and move to sixth in the world rankings. The last American to beat Federer in US soil was Andy Roddick at the Miami Masters in 2012. Sock can expect to do better than in his two previous meetings against the legendary Swiss in 2015 where he lost in straight sets in Indian Wells and then in Federer’s home event in Basel. Carreno Busta is assured of finishing in the top twenty for the first time in his career.
Federer leads Wawrinka 19-3 in the career head to head, but Wawrinka claimed his only Masters title when he beat Federer in the final in Monte Carlo 2014 after being two points from losing in straight sets. Federer has won 24 masters series titles with Novak Djpkovic (30 titles) and Rafael Nadal (28) titles ahead of him. Federer is also chasing his 90th career title with only Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94) ahead of him.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]