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Experience Leads Federer Past Raonic

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty ImagesThree-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer has won 35 of his past 37 matches.

Experience won over youth on Tuesday night in Indian Wells, with 30-year-old Roger Federer coming back to defeat 21-year-old Milos Raonic 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 for a place in the BNP Paribas Open fourth round.

“I guess my experience helped me to stay calm and just weather the storm,” said Federer. “Maybe if I would be younger I'd be more panicky about him hitting aces left and right and making me feel uncomfortable. I have been there so many times before against some of the all time great servers that it was obviously not going to happen tonight. I just hoped to stay calm.”

Raonic gained the upper hand in the first meeting between the pair, going up a mini-break 5-3 and holding his serve to clinch the tie-break, but Federer came back strong in the second set. The World No. 3 broke in the opening game and a second time to go up 4-1.

“I felt at the beginning maybe I just went for a little too much, didn't play within myself,” said Raonic. “I think I caught on to that pretty early and calmed down and did the right things. I think it just came down to a few poorly executed plays as well. I think I hit the ball well. I just was picking the wrong shot, and this is what makes the difference, but with experience hopefully I catch on to that.”

Federer lost only five points on serve in the decisive set, and converted on the only break point chance with a winner past Raonic in the seventh game, going on to clinch the victory after two hours and seven minutes.

“Even though I was down a set, I don't think I was playing poorly,” said Federer. “I might have missed one running forehand in the breaker, and that was about it. That cost me the set. That's just how it goes sometimes. I think my experience in this regard helped me a bit, but overall I think I just played a good match. My confidence got me through as well playing so many matches as of late. I think that was maybe the difference tonight.”

Both players had entered the year’s first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament with two titles to their names in 2012, Federer winning in Rotterdam and Dubai and Raonic in Chennai and San Jose.

Federer has now 11 straight matches, and 35 of his last 37 since a loss in the US Open semi-finals.

He will attempt to extend his streak when he next meets unseeded Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. The World No. 50 secured safe passage when former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko retired due to illness.

Bellucci, 24, has reached the quarter-finals of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament once previously, posting upset wins over Top 10 players Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych en route to the Madrid semi-finals last year (l. to Djokovic).

“Obviously it's a quick turn of events to go from night session to day session, from a righty to a lefty, from a big server to a baseliner,” assessed Federer. “I'm looking forward to that kind of a challenge. It's different. I hope to feel better again tomorrow so I will be able to last through long rallies.”

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