Friday, March 17, 2017

Kyrgios withdraws; all-Russian women's final set

Nick Kyrgios practices Thursday during the BNP Paribas Open
at Indian Wells, Photo by Paul Bauman
   Roger Federer emerged from the "Quarter of Death" anticlimactically.
   Nick Kyrgios, who toppled Novak Djokovic for the second consecutive tournament in the round of 16, withdrew from his quarterfinal showdown against Federer today with a stomach illness.
   "Unfortunately, I am unable to play today due to sickness," Kyrgios, a 21-year-old Australian, said in a statement. "At this stage, we think it's food poisoning, and I'm praying it's nothing more. After a restless night of being sick, I have nothing left, and to play a great champion like Roger, I need to be at my best to have a chance. I don't take this decision lightly. These are the matches we train for, but I'm in no fit state to take the court.
   "I'm sorry to the fans that I'm unable to take to the court, but I have to put my health first, and I hope you understand. I want to wish Roger the best of luck for the rest of the tournament and thank everyone for their support so far here at the BNP Paribas Open. I will definitely be back. Thank you."
   Meanwhile, No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 14 Elena Vesnina will meet in an all-Russian final on Sunday  at 11 a.m. (ESPN).
   Two weeks ago in Acapulco, Kyrgios joined countryman Lleyton Hewitt as the only players to win their first match against Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal.
   In his only match against Federer, Kyrgios won 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (12) in the second round at Madrid on clay in 2015.
   Kyrgios reached the semifinals of the 2013 Sacramento Challenger at 18.
   The No. 9-seeded Federer, a four-time champion at Indian Wells who defeated Nadal in the round of 16, will play No. 17 Jack Sock, who reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal, on Saturday at about 1 p.m. (ESPN). Sock, the top-ranked American at No. 18, beat Kei Nishikori, seeded fourth and ranked fifth, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 for his first victory over a top-five player.
   Sock, who received a first-round bye, has won all four of his matches in three sets. He saved four match points against No. 12 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the third round and came within two points of losing to unseeded Malek Jaziri in the round of 16.
   Sock, the 2015 BNP doubles champion with Vasek Pospisil, has not won a set in two matches against Federer. Both matches occurred in 2015. Federer won 6-3, 6-2 in the round of 16 at Indian Wells and 6-3, 6-4 indoors in the semifinals at Basel, Federer's hometown.
   Sock won his first Challenger singles title in Tiburon in 2012 at 20, edging Mischa Zverev 7-6 in the third set of the final. Zverev shocked top-ranked Andy Murray before losing to eventual champion Federer in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January.
   An all-Swiss final on Sunday is likely. No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka will face No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in Saturday's first semifinal at 11 a.m. (ESPN). Wawrinka is 2-0 against Carreno Busta, also playing in his first Masters 1000 semifinal, but both matches were on clay.
   The resurgent Kuznetsova, 31, defeated No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) to reach her third Indian Wells final. She lost to Daniela Hantuchova in 2007 and Ana Ivanovic in 2008.  Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion (2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open), then failed to advance past the third round in eight consecutive BNP appearances until this year.  
   Pliskova already has won two titles this year (Brisbane and Doha). She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final of last year's U.S. Open, after stunning Serena Williams in the semifinals, and the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Vesnina, 30, gained her first singles final in a WTA Premier Mandatory tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 28 Kristina Mladenovic of France.
   Vesnina reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year and upset No. 2 seed Kerber in the round of 16 of the BNP Paribas Open.
   Mladenovic, 23, beat two former Indian Wells champions in the tournament: Simona Halep (2015) in the third round and Caroline Wozniacki (2011) in the quarterfinals.

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