After a dominant first set of serving by Milos Raonic, Roger Federer got on track with the Canadian’s delivery just in time rallying to a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 victory Tuesday night at Indian Wells.
Raonic started the match as advertised, bombing serves and slugging winners. Federer, who was still under the affects of a flu virus, was also holding with ease, but in the tiebreaker the Swiss was the first to blink.
Federer, though, didn’t waver securing an early break racing to a 6-2 second set win. Then in third Roger broke in the seventh game to all but seal the match.
“Even though I was down a set, I don’t think I was playing poorly,” said Federer. “I might have missed one running forehand in the breaker, and that was about it. That cost me the set. That’s just how it goes sometimes. I think my experience in this regard helped me a bit, but overall I think I just played a good match. My confidence got me through as well playing so many matches as of late. I think that was maybe the difference tonight.”
Federer showed again that few players in history handle the big servers as well as he does. Sure, he only managed a single point against the Raonic first serve in the opening set, but Roger eventually figured things out.
“I guess my experience helped me to stay calm and just weather the storm,” said Federer. “Maybe if I would be younger I’d be more panicky about him hitting aces left and right and making me feel uncomfortable. I have been there so many times before against some of the all time great servers that it was obviously not going to happen tonight. I just hoped to stay calm.”
Raonic was playing in arguably the biggest match of his career, his first meeting with Federer in a huge night match inside a massive stadium, the second largest in tennis. And for a while Raonic displayed his awesome future.
“I felt at the beginning maybe I just went for a little too much, didn’t play within myself,” said Raonic. “I think I caught on to that pretty early and calmed down and did the right things. I think it just came down to a few poorly executed plays as well. I think I hit the ball well. I just was picking the wrong shot, and this is what makes the difference, but with experience hopefully I catch on to that.”
And Milos will get that experience and someday soon, very soon, he’ll be in the Top 10 and winning Grand Slams. The kid’s too powerful, too smart and too composed not to.
Federer moves on to meet Tomaz Bellucci today. The Brazilian’s a big-hitting lefty, a little in the Rafael Nadal mold. On a slow court and depending how Roger is able to recover from Tuesday – read: illness – it could be a tough match for the Swiss.
“Obviously it’s a quick turn of events to go from night session to day session, from a righty to a lefty, from a big server to a baseliner,” Federer said. “I’m looking forward to that kind of a challenge. It’s different. I hope to feel better again tomorrow so I will be able to last through long rallies.”
JW Tsonga, Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian, who got a good win over Janko Tipsarevic, were the other big winners.
In the lone upset, Denis Istomin stunned David Ferrer. Ferrer had been so hot and in form winning 11 straight but the Uzbek was up to the challenge to collect his first career Top 10 scalp.
In women’s play, Caroline Wozniacki’s horrid season continued last night. The defending champion was bludgeoned by former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-2.
“She just went on a roll,” Wozniacki said. “She started to hit the ball harder, and, you know, it was going in. I stepped back a little bit, and it gave her the time to do what she wanted. She just played better than me today, and I just need to get back and practice on a few things and hopefully get back strong for Miami.”
Whatever Wozniacki’s doing she needs to stop. Boyfriend, coach, etc. Clearly nothing is working. She needs a complete overhaul.
Maria Sharapova also was a winner and a pair of American youngsters, Jamie Hampton, who retired to Radwanska, and Cristina McHale both lost. McHale squandered three matchpoints losing in a tough third set tiebreaker to Angelique Kerber.
With all eight fourth round men’s matches on the schedule, it’s a delicious day in the desert. Among the better ones, Nadal, who’s looked arguably the best of anyone, plays the tricky Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Upstart American Ryan Harrison tries to reach his first Masters quarterfinal against Gilles Simon. Tsonga meets Nalbandian in an intriguing affair and maybe Pablo Andujar, a hard-hitting Spaniard, can keep things tight with Novak Djokovic in the first match on Stadium 1.
Despite the deep schedule, I think all the favorites (higher ranked) win today. Though if his flu worsens and if the match does get played under the sun, Federer could have problems.
The women’s quarterfinals also begin with Azarenka-Radwanska and Kerber-Li Na. And maybe there’s still some bad blood between Azarenka and Radwanska after the Doha incident where Radwanska questioned Vika’s injury.
Tennis Channel has all the coverage starting at 2pm.
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs P Andujar (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 1:30 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
 A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
T Bellucci (BRA) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 A Kerber (GER) vs  N Li (CHN) – WTA
Not Before 8:30 PM
D Istomin (UZB) vs  J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am
 N Almagro (ESP) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
 J Isner (USA) vs [Q] M Ebden (AUS) – ATP
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs D Nalbandian (ARG) – ATP
R Harrison (USA) vs  G Simon (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 5:00 PM
M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) vs  L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP – After Suitable Rest
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