Tennis: Ruthless Fed in blistering form

South Korea's Chung Hyeon hitting a running backhand against Roger Federer on Thursday. The Swiss world No. 1 won 7-5, 6-1 to move into the semi-finals at Indian Wells with a 16-0 unbeaten streak this year.
South Korea's Chung Hyeon hitting a running backhand against Roger Federer on Thursday. The Swiss world No. 1 won 7-5, 6-1 to move into the semi-finals at Indian Wells with a 16-0 unbeaten streak this year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Swiss' unbeaten streak at 16-0 after win over Chung, who replaces Nishikori as Asian No. 1

INDIAN WELLS (California) • South Korean Chung Hyeon managed to hang around against Roger Federer a little longer this time around, but only just, as the Swiss maestro advanced to the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open with a 7-5, 6-1 victory on Thursday.

Despite his defeat, the 21-year-old Chung said that he had enjoyed going toe-to-toe with the world No. 1, especially in a tight first set.

"I was down one break, and I'm just trying to stay calm and I'm just trying to learn from Roger," he said on the ATP's official website.

"And I come back, five-all, and he played good. I'm really happy to play against Roger."

Chung's fairy-tale run at the Australian Open in January came to a crashing halt when he retired with foot blisters while trailing Federer 1-6, 2-5 in their semi-final.

Federer, who won his 20th Grand Slam title with his victory at Melbourne Park, was ruthless against his opponent once again on Thursday and took his unbeaten run this year to 16 matches, equalling his record from 12 years ago.

The Swiss won 70 per cent of his first-serve points, had just one double fault and broke Chung's serve four times in the 1hr 2min match.

  • FEDERER'S MASTER STROKES

  • SERVICE BREAKS

    4

  • ACES

    12

  • FIRST-SERVE POINTS WON (%)

    70

He clinched victory on the second match point when he blasted his 12th and final ace of the contest.

Last month, the 36-year-old claimed his 97th singles title with a win in Rotterdam which helped him regain the world No. 1 ranking.

And this victory guarantees he will hold on to the top spot.

Federer will next meet Borna Coric, who defeated world No. 9 Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

"He plays similar to Chung," Federer said of Coric. "A great mover and has got a world of confidence. I got to play aggressive tennis as much as I can."

The bespectacled Chung, appearing in his fifth quarter-final in six tournaments this year, dropped to 15-6 this season.

But the world No. 26 is set to surpass Japan's Kei Nishikori, a rank above him, as the top Asian player in the ATP rankings. Chung is expected to rise to a career high of No. 23 on Monday.

"I'm really honoured to be No. 1 Asian. And Kei is playing really good and I hope he plays good this year," he said.

In the women's draw, Daria Kasatkina defeated her second straight top-10 player as she needed less than an hour to rout 10th seed Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2 and book her first Indian Wells semi-final.

Kasatkina, who is ranked 19th in the world, has beaten all four reigning Grand Slam winners in the past year, including US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the third round at Indian Wells.

She advanced to the quarter-finals with a three-set win over world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, who won the Australian Open in January.

Asked about her giant-killing form, the 20-year-old Russian said: "Of course it was not easy. They are one of the best players in the world, winning Grand Slams.

"I just play a lot of matches and get experience playing the best players and learning from them.

"I'm a normal human. I don't want people to think that I'm somebody really special. I'm just somebody who is also playing tennis."

Kasatkina faced seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams, who defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 6-2, in the semi-finals this morning.

"It's a dream come true. She is a legend," Kasatkina added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

ATP/WTA INDIAN WELLS

Men's s-finals: StarHub Ch201, tomorrow, 2am Women's s-finals: Ch203, 10am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2018, with the headline 'Ruthless Fed in blistering form'. Print Edition | Subscribe