Dolgopolov Beats Raonic To Reach First Masters 1000 SF
Indian Wells, U.S.A.
Alexandr Dolgopolov continued his magical run at the BNP Paribas Open, defeating 10th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday afternoon in Indian Wells to reach his first semi-final at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.
The Ukrainian recorded his third straight victory over a seeded player, following his upsets of World No. 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal in the third round and No. 13 seed Fabio Fognini in the fourth. He improved to a 6-2 mark against Top 20 opponents this season.
After falling behind 0-3 in the second set, the 28th-seeded Dolgopolov finally converted on his seventh break point of the set in the fifth game with a backhand winner. He broke Raonic again on his next opportunity to take a 4-3 lead and closed out the victory on serve after one hour and 18 minutes.
"I was quite fast today," said Dolgopolov. "I was really happy with that. And I was able to get more returns than usually you can against him. He serves really big and I knew I had to do that, and I'm quite pleased how I anticipated on his serve and have seen the toss of the ball and was really, really concentrated to get those serves back."
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Raonic had 33 aces in his opening win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but came up with just four against Dolgopolov - just one more than his number of double-faults.
"I thought I did a lot of things well, as well," said Raonic. "I really was pushing myself, because I was hoping that if I forced myself to stay strong with an attitude that the game would come. I just wish I could have served better. But other than that, he did the right things at the right times right away from the start of the match. He was a factor of why I didn't serve as well as I would have liked as well."
The 25-year-old Dolgopolov will look to reach his second final of the season when he next faces the winner between four-time champion Roger Federer and South African Kevin Anderson, who play in the night session Thursday. Dolgopolov finished runner-up to Nadal last month at the Rio Open, an ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament.
"I played good for three weeks," he said. "I'm quite fresh. I felt good physically today. I'm confident enough to come out and play good tennis. Then who knows, you know? I beat a lot of good players around here, so I wouldn't see why not win more matches.
"I'll just come out, do my best, and of course it's going to be really tough because it's semis or finals. No bad players left and no players not in the top form now."
Dolgopolov, a former World No. 13, has already climbed 26 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings this season and is projected to move an additional eight spots to No. 23 with his semi-final effort.
He is the first player from Ukraine to reach this stage at a Masters 1000 tournament since Andrei Medvedev won the Hamburg title in 1997.
Raonic was contesting just his second tournament of the season, having been sidelined since the Australian Open with an ankle injury.
"I think coming here, if anybody sort of offered me a signed piece of paper to say, Would you like to be in the quarter-finals this week, especially with what I have been struggling with, how much more I would have liked to have prepared for the event, I would have signed that sheet right away," he said. "I think that says enough."
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