16th March, 2012
Third-seeded Swiss Roger Federer defeated Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the ATP/WTA Indian Wells tournament on Friday.
Federer advanced to the semi-finals, where he will play Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who defeated Argentina’s David Nalbandian in three sets. Nalbandian took the first set 6-4, but Nadal upped his game to clinch the subsequent sets 7-5, 6-4.
Meanwhile, female World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and second seeded Russian Maria Sharapova have both reached the Indian Wells final, setting themselves up for a rematch of the Australian Open Finals.
Azarenka beat rising German star Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-3 to extend her season-long match win streak to 22-0, while Sharapova edged out in-form Serbian Ana Ivanovic, who retired in the second set with hip injury, after losing the first set 4-6.
Reigning Australian Open champion Azarenka has three titles already this year and has now reached the final of her last six tournaments.
“I am so excited because this is the first time for me to be in the final. I love to play here,” Azarenka said.
Azarenka’s win streak is the longest on the WTA Tour since 1997, when Martina Hingis won 37 in a row. Serena Williams had a 21-match win streak in 2003.
Azarenka pulled out of last year’s Indian Wells tournament after getting injured during her quarter-final match against Caroline Wozniacki.
She suffered the hip injury just 10 minutes into the match on the second point of the third game while stretching to try and return a shot.
Friday’s night match on centre court was played in cooler and windy conditions as forecasters are predicting rain showers on Saturday when the men are scheduled to play their semi-finals.
“It made it a little more interesting,” Azarenka said of the wind. “A little adversity and a challenge for us.”
Azarenka, who won 70 percent of her first-serve points, needed 88 minutes to beat Kerber. She broke Kerber’s serve in the final game of the match and on match point Azarenka hammered a cross-court forehand that Kerber returned long.
Kerber had five double faults, held her serve just four times and was broken six times in the match.
“I had some chances,” Kerber said. “I didn’t get it done. But she’s a great player and she plays very good in these moments.
“I did everything I could today. But she was better.”