Indian Wells: Milos Raonic made sure Miomir Kecmanovic’s good luck finally ran out at the BNP Paribas Open.
Raonic beat the 19-year-old Serb 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals and improve to 19-4 at Indian Wells since 2014.
Raonic fired 13 aces against no double faults in putting away Kecmanovic in 72 minutes on a sunny, windy and cool day in the Southern California desert.
“Even when I was hitting the spots, I wasn’t hitting them that well,” Raonic said about his serving. “I think that can get better.”
He’ll try to improve next against No. 7 Dominic Thiem, who advanced via walkover when No. 18 Gael Monfils announced on court that he couldn’t play because of a left Achilles injury.
Kecmanovic was the first lucky loser to reach the quarter-finals at the tournament since it became a Masters 1000 event in 1990. Ranked 130th in the world, the Serb lost in qualifying, but his fortune soon turned.
Three seeded players withdrew before the tournament began, clearing the way for Kecmanovic to become a lucky loser and receive a first-round bye.
The teenager certainly made the most of it. Kecmanovic got by three players, including 30th-seeded Laslo Djere, in straight sets to set up his second meeting with Raonic. That’s where Kecmanovic’s luck ended.
Raonic won 88 per cent of his first-serve points and saved all three break chances against him.
“I knew he had nothing to lose, and I had to be really disciplined with myself,” Raonic said.
In January, Raonic beat Kecmanovic in straight sets on his way to the title at Brisbane in January.
Belinda Bencic beat fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semis, ensuring her return to the top 20 in the rankings.
“I wouldn’t believe I win today again,” Bencic said. “I’m not going to the court with any expectation. I’m just trying to play. This is the mentality I have, and this is the mentality I’m going to keep having.”
Bencic’s victory set up a semi-final against No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber, who beat error-prone Venus Williams 7-6, 6-3 in a matchup of 30-somethings.
Williams led 4-2 in the first set before Kerber won three straight games to go up 5-4. Kerber held to force the tiebreaker, which she dominated.
It took Kerber several games in the opening set to get used to Williams’ changing tactics.
“She changed the rhythm a little bit,” Kerber said. “Going for it when she put the lob ones and the high ones and the short ones. In the first set I was moving everywhere and when I have the chances to move her.”