Federer advances to BNP Paribas Open semifinals

BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer Published:

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) -- Roger Federer eased into the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Friday, the Swiss star's fourth victory over the Argentine this year.

Federer won in just more than an hour to set up a semifinal against either No. 2 Rafael Nadal or David Nalbandian, who followed him on stadium court in 80-degree conditions at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Rain and wind is forecast to move into the Coachella Valley this weekend, threatening to disrupt play.

Federer, ranked third in the world behind No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Nadal, improved to 37-2 with five titles since last year's U.S. Open. His only losses were to Nadal at the Australian Open and American John Isner, who advanced to the other semifinal against Djokovic.

Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber were to play the first women's semifinal at night, followed by second-ranked Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic.

The first game between Federer and Del Potro lasted 11 minutes. One of Federer's first serves was called good by a line judge, although both he and Del Potro believed it was out. Del Potro wanted to challenge, but the Hawk Eye line calling system temporarily broke down when an Internet connection was lost and data couldn't be provided.

As a result, the chair umpire supported the line judge's original call and Federer held on his way to building a 3-0 lead, including the set's only service break. Del Potro, who had two break points in the first game, argued to no avail.

"It was clear out and the machine doesn't work," he said. "But then the chair umpire told me he made a mistake ... could be a big chance to me to change the way of the match in that game. After that I was not concentrating and Roger was playing better, taking all his opportunities."

Federer has been fighting a cold during the two-week tournament, but it didn't seem to affect him. He has seen the electronic system break down before.

"Crazy enough, when I played Rafa in Wimbledon, at 6-all in the fifth Hawk Eye wasn't available anymore because of the light. That was great for us to know. It wasn't such an important match. Who cares?" he said sarcastically.

Federer broke Del Potro twice in the second set when he led 5-1. Federer's backhand volley on his first match point missed wide. Del Potro had a break point when Federer netted another volley, but he got to deuce and then Del Potro netted a return of Federer's second serve on the Swiss' second match point.

"I sort of expected myself to come out and play a good match today after the struggle I had against (Thomaz) Bellucci," said Federer, who won that fourth-rounder in three sets. "I don't usually struggle back to back days, so this was for me a really good match against a great player."

Federer fired 13 aces, while Del Potro's first-serve percentage went from 76 percent in the first set to 50 percent in the second.

"I don't serve really well and then when I had the break points I play bad," he said. "It's only the same as usual. If you don't take your chance against Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, you can't win."