Raonic Clinical To Reach Indian Wells SF

Canadian aiming for fourth ATP Masters 1000 final

Milos Raonic was at his efficient best on Thursday afternoon, beating Serbian lucky loser Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4 to reach his fourth BNP Paribas Open semi-final in Indian Wells.

The Canadian, who made the 2016 final (l. to Djokovic), didn't have his best serving day – making only 55 per cent of his first serves – but he made the ones he landed count, winning almost 90 per cent (30/34) of his rocket first offerings.

“In a few key moments my serve really helped me out,” Raonic said. “I knew it was going to be tough. He's won his last three matches against good players... So I knew he had nothing to lose, and I had to be really disciplined with myself, and I'm happy I was able to follow through.”

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Kecmanovic, playing in his first tour-level quarter-final, held his own for much of the his first tour-level quarter-final, stretching Raonic to the corners to start the point and opening up the court. But the 19-year-old Serbian, who had one tour-level win before Indian Wells, couldn't convert any of his three break points, including two at 3-4 in the second set.

I think the conditions are good for me, especially when the sun's out," said Raonic about his Indian Wells success. "The court heats up a little bit. There is a good amount of jump on the court. This year it's a little bit slower than the previous years, but it allows me to take a few more swipes at a few more shots, and I can do different things with my serve that I need to get ahead in the point."

The 28-year-old will meet Dominic Thiem for a place in the ATP Masters 1000 final. Thiem advanced when Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarter-final because of a severely strained Achilles tendon in his left leg. Raonic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0.

"I tried to warm up and my left Achilles was very painful since a couple days, and this morning was really tough for me, to run 100 per cent, and tonight I tried to hit a little bit, and I cannot compete 100 per cent tonight," said Monfils, who decided to explain his withdrawal on court to the Stadium 1 fans who were waiting for his match.

The 6'5” Canadian has reached three Masters 1000 finals – 2013 Canada, 2014 Paris, 2016 Indian Wells – but hasn't won a tour-level title in more than three years (January 2016, Brisbane). His maiden Masters 1000 title would be one of his best accomplishments to date.

"It would be there, I believe, parallel to the [2016] Wimbledon final, if not higher, just because it's going through a week amongst the best players in the world," Raonic said. "It's not easy to do, especially not the ones at the beginning of the year, these two [Indian Wells and Miami], because guys have a lot of time. Nobody is really rushing here. Guys can bring their best tennis because it's an extended tournament. So it's tough to do it here."