Roger Federer Matches Best Season Start at 16-0, Venus Williams into First Indian Wells Semi Since 2001
(March 15, 2018) Roger Federer has equaled his best start of a season reaching the 16-0 mark by defeating Korea’s Hyeon Chung 7-5, 6-1 in a rematch of the Australian Open semifinal, to make the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open. The 36-year-old Swiss No. 1 was joined in the final four on the men’s side by 21-year-old Croatian Borna Coric, who fought back to defeat seventh seed Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
In the women’s tournament, 37-year-old Venus Williams is into her first Indian Wells final four since 2001, with her win over Spain’s Carl Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2. She’ll be facing Daria Kasatkina of Russia, the 20th seed who dismantled 10th seed Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2.
The 36-year-old Federer last began his season at 16-0 back in 2006 when he was 24.
“Twelve years ago, a long time ago,” Federer said to media whens asked about comparing 2006 to 2018. “I don’t know. What was I doing back then? I don’t even remember what tournament I played first up and won.
“But, look, honestly I can’t remember (smiling). I just — I guess I had a similar good start to the year. But I guess back then, because I was on this massive streak of winning 30, 40-plus matches, I guess it had already started the year before that, which this time it didn’t. I had to get it going again in Australia.
“Yeah, no, it’s a great start. Hopefully I can do one more and beat my best streak on Saturday.”
He started out strongly against the 21-year old Chung going up 3-0. The Korean, the 23rd seed in the event, roared back to 3-3 and both men held on to their serves until the 12th game when the Swiss broke to win the set 7-5.
After a long first game of the second set where Chung had four break points, Federer held on to his serve and never had to look back.
“First set I have few chance(s) to win, but he play really good in first set,” Chung said in his post-match news conference. “However, I’m just great experience last two weeks. I’m really happy.”
With his success this week, Chung will become the top-ranked Asian tennis player in the world, surpassing Kei Nishikori.
“I’m really honored to be, No. 1 in Asian,” he said. “And Kei is playing really good and great player in the world, and I hope he playing good this year.”
“Good intensity,” Federer said in evaluating Chung as a player. “Solid in his mind. I like his speed of shots, you know, forehand and backhand. There’s always — yeah, it’s a heavy ball, and he’s very consistent. In today’s game, that’s a lot. And then he’s good on the defense, and he also likes to come to the net.
“So I see a lot of good things moving forward for him.”
Federer was asked about longevity and to comment about Tommy Haas, the tournament director for the tournament, who officially retired after Federer’s match. Federer was on court with Haas for the tribute.
“I was very happy to be there for Tommy, for that big moment in Tommy’s career.
“In the beginning, I guess we had a rivalry, but we knew each other a little bit because we both German-speaking. So, you know, we always got along well.
“Especially in the last sort of ten years, ever since he started dating Sara and they had kids eventually, you know, we got to know each other better and better over time. He was always one of my closer friends or closest friends on the tour.
“And, yeah, I was always very closely in touch with his decision-making as well, maybe is he going to retire or not. We were always talking a little bit.
“I’m just very happy for him that he was able to take this big decision. You know, it’s not an easy one, but it should be one of happiness and one of pride, and I think that’s what he felt. At the same time, it’s emotional. That’s what it’s supposed to be, right?”
The No. 8 seed Williams has not dropped a set this tournament. “I’m definitely happy,” Williams said to media. “You kind of hope for this kind of scoreline, but you never know if you’re actually going to get it. I was happy with way I played.
“Playing deep in a big tournament is exciting, fantastic.”
Asked about what she need to do to beat her next opponent Kasatkina, she said: Just try to play well. I don’t have any special plan. Really just try to play well.
Kasatkina has beaten three major winners this tournament – Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber.
“Of course it was not easy,” noted the Russian. “They are one of the best players in the world, winning Grand Slams.
“Maybe, yeah, from the side or with the score it looks like it was simple, but of course it’s not. I was preparing for the match. During the match I was really focused, and I knew that in one moment if I will just — if I will lose focus just for a second, they will come back and then the big battle, five hours again, will start.
“Yeah, the most difficult thing to play against top players is to keep your focus two hours, three hours on the court if you should.”
“I’m pretty happy with my game today,” she added. “I think I was not, like, really on cruise (control), but I was doing the right things to win.”
“I think from my side I was not able to play my game like I played the last few weeks,” admitted Kerber.
“I couldn’t find, yeah, the rhythm.”
“I make a lot of mistakes, easy ones, and not my day at the end.”
As for playing Williams for a place in the final, Kasatkina remembers their match at Wimbledon: “Last year it was, like, Wimbledon I lose from — I was break up in the third, I guess, and I lose 10-8 in the third. Yeah, but it was on the grass, so… It was better for her.
“Yeah, actually, it was very good match, because she’s one of the best on this surface, winning Wimbledon few times.
“It was, for me, it was first really tournament where I won the match on the grass court, so I guess was pretty good one, even if I lose.
“But here is different story completely, hard court, and we’ll see. No expectation. As I said, no pressure, no expectation. Semifinals, whatever can happen.”
Borna Coric has now reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal with his win first-ever win over Anderson. Coric overcame a dominant start by the South African to prevail.
“Yes, I didn’t start very well,” Coric said. “He was hitting the ball very big, and I just couldn’t find my rhythm on the ball. You know, I lost very early break, which is never good against him.
“Yeah, it was not easy to find the rhythm. Then again on 5-2, again, I knew I just need that one break and, you know, I’m basically back in the match. And I need to serving better. I started going more for the serve.
“And, yeah, and then, you know, I broke him earlier in the second set, which was really helpful. You know, in the third, again, I knew, you know, it’s one break, it’s two or three points are going to decide, and that’s what happened.”
“I knew that I lost to him three times in a row, you know, and in the past I never played good against him, so obviously it was not easy.
“No, but again I was just saying to myself, just, I need, you know, one or two good points and he makes one double fault, and that’s what happened, you know, in the second set. That’s exactly what happened. You know, I played, I think, two good points. He made a double fault at some point, and, you know, that’s it.”
“It’s going to be very interesting match,” Coric said in regard to playing his semifinal. “I think Chung is in fantastic form, you know. I mean, Roger, I don’t have to say anything. You know, we all know him.”
“I’m just looking forward to the next challenge and what it brings me that day.”
More to follow…..