INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — There was no stunning upset this time for Canadian Milos Raonic.
A day after a stunning quarter-final win over Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Raonic dropped a 7-5, 6-4 semifinal decision to Swiss star Roger Federer at the BNP Paribas Open. It marked the eighth time in nine career meetings that the hard-serving right-hander from Thornhill, Ont., has lost to the second-seeded Federer.
Raonic’s lone win came in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris last October.
The doubles team of Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock, the Wimbledon doubles champions, defeated Australian Open victors Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-4, 6-7(3), 10-7 (match tiebreak) to lift their third title as a team.
The Canadian-American pair were playing their first event of the season after Sock’s injury recovery.
The tight contest took nearly one hour 45 minutes, with the Canadian’s team winning seven straight points in the tiebreak deciding set to reach 8-3. But it took more hard work to go through as the Italians fought back, saving three match points.
Pospisil’s side finally won as Bolelli mis-handled a volley to end the match. “Jack’s been on fire all week,” said Pospisil. “It was really great to play with him and win our first Masters 1000 title.”
Raonic registered just eight aces in the match, which lasted less than 90 minutes. Among those in attendance was retired hockey star Wayne Gretzky.
“I left it all on the court,” said the Canadian. “I thought it was a few points here and there makes a difference. I tried to put everything out there that I could, and the outcome was as is.
“I felt good, I felt energetic. I felt like I had the right attitude put forward, and I was going to give it my all.”
Federer closed it out after rallying from a 30-0 deficit in the final game thanks to two unforced errors from Raonic. Federer didn’t hesitate in finishing off the win, completing an easy volley on match point.
“I had a shot on my racquet to give myself 0-40, Maybe I tried to do too much. But I did a good job in the match. I’m getting myself into the mix,” said Raonic.
“I want to win more of these matches, I’m putting myself out there, I’m getting closer and closer.”
Federer will face Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in the final Sunday. Djokovic beat Federer in last year’s final but dropped the Dubai final to the 33-year-old Federer three weeks ago.
Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3 earlier Saturday to reach the final, handing Murray his worst hard-court loss against the world’s top-ranked player since 2007.
On Friday, the 24-year-old Raonic earned his first career win over Nadal. He had reached the quarter-final round or better at eight of his last 10 Masters 1000 events— a feat matched only by Federer.
Raonic played Federer tough as the Swiss star managed to earn a break in the 11th game of the opening set. A game later, the Swiss wrapped up the set with a solid forehand drive to the corner.
Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, earned a break to start the second set, then saved a break point for 3-1 lead. Federer held for a 5-3 lead before going on to earn the victory.
Raonic is not discouraged by his loss. “It helps when you have these moments, these experiences, and you try to take the most away from them. I’m happy that I’m getting more and more traction each time and I can get some wins hopefully in my favour.
“It’s never like you get on top of these guys. As you see between each other, they keep going back and forth with the results. I’m just trying to sort of get myself in that mix and give myself that opportunity where it can go back and forth.”