WAWRINKA AD­VANCES

Swiss star reaches semi-fi­nals with hard-fought vic­tory over Thiem

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IN­DIAN WELLS

Three-time Grand Slam cham­pion Stan Wawrinka reached the semi-fi­nals of the ATP In­dian Wells Mas­ters for the first time on Thurs­day with a hard­fought three-set vic­tory over eighth-seeded Do­minic Thiem.

Switzer­land’s third-seeded Wawrinka, play­ing his first tour­na­ment in the United States since his US Open vic­tory last year, bat­tled for two and a half hours to get past the ris­ing Aus­trian star 6-4, 4-6, 76 (7/2) and book a meet­ing with Spain’s Pablo Car­reno Busta.

Car­reno Busta saved two match points en route to a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4) vic­tory over Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.

Wawrinka, 31, posted the 450th ATP win of his ca­reer and kept alive his bid for a sec­ond elite Mas­ters ti­tle to go with his 2014 Monte Carlo tri­umph.

“The level was re­ally high tonight,” Wawrinka said. “I’m re­ally happy the way I was play­ing, the way I found a way to win it.

“He’s a strong player, re­ally tough to play. I think in gen­eral we played both re­ally high level, and the match was only one, two points.”

After drop­ping his serve to open the match, Wawrinka broke Thiem twice to seize the first set, but Thiem grabbed the break he needed in the third game of the sec­ond to level the match.

After with­stand­ing two break points in the first game of the third set, Wawrinka broke the Aus­trian en route to a quick 3-0 lead.

But Thiem, rid­ing high after a vic­tory in Rio de Janeiro this sea­son, wasn’t about to go qui­etly, win­ning the next three games.

But Thiem was un­able to con­vert a break chance in the ninth game, and he found him­self fac­ing a match point against his own serve in the 12th — sav­ing it with a boom­ing fore­hand that Wawrinka could do noth­ing with as he forced a tiebreaker that Wawrinka con­trolled.

“I think in the third-set tiebreak I served re­ally well,” said Wawrinka, who also beat lucky loser Yoshi­hito Nish­ioka in a third-set tiebreaker in the fourth round.

“I was re­ally fo­cused to not give him any­thing. And, again, it’s a great win for me,” he said.

Car­reno Busta also bat­tled through a tense third set in which Cuevas was un­able to con­vert

I’m re­ally happy the way I was play­ing, the way I found a way to win it.”

STAN WAWRINKA

match points against the Spa­niard’s serve in both the 10th and 12th games as they took the con­test to the tiebreaker.

The drama was height­ened by Cuevas’s tum­ble on the first of those match points as he lunged for a back­hand — ne­ces­si­tat­ing a mid-game med­i­cal time­out for treat­ment on his scraped right hand after Car­reno Busta had pol­ished off the point with an over­head.

Things stayed tight in the tiebreaker, Car­reno Busta gain­ing a match point at 6-4 when Cuevas sent a back­hand long, and seal­ing it with a back­hand vol­ley to reach the first Mas­ters semi-fi­nal of his ca­reer.

“It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing,” said Car­reno Busta. “It’s my first time in the semi-fi­nal in a Mas­ters 1000, but here in In­dian Wells is — you know, for me, this tour­na­ment is one of the best, not just the Mas­ters 1000, one of the best tour­na­ments in the year and maybe one of the tougher, be­cause all the peo­ple is play­ing here, all the top 20.” AFP

AFP PIC

Stanis­las Wawrinka in ac­tion against Do­minic Thiem in the quar­ter- fi­nals on Thurs­day.

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