Tennis: Wawrinka reaches Indian Wells final

Wawrinka hits a backhand return to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
Wawrinka hits a backhand return to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.PHOTO: AFP

INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) - World number three Stan Wawrinka powered past Pablo Carreno Busta on Saturday (March 18) to reach the Indian Wells Masters final, where he could find Roger Federer waiting.

Wawrinka’s celebrated Swiss compatriot, who claimed an 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, faced 17th-seeded American Jack Sock in Saturday’s second semi-final.

While Federer is a four-time champion in the California desert, Wawrinka has struggled in previous editions of the first Masters tournament of the year.

He had never made it to the semi-finals until this year, and he survived a close shave against lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka in the fourth round and needed a third-set tiebreaker against rising Austrian talent Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals to do it.

Against Spain’s 23rd-ranked Carreno Busta, however, it was clear sailing for the reigning US Open champion, who didn’t face a break point in the 64 minute match.

One break of Carreno Busta’s serve was enough to give him the first set, and Wawrinka earned a hard-won break for a 2-1 lead in the second with a blistering forehand on his fifth break point of the game that Carreno Busta had no hope of getting back.

Another break in the seventh game left Wawrinka to serve it out, and he punctuated the contest with a love game.

Federer went into his semi-final against Sock – winner of two titles this year in Auckland and Delray Beach – well-rested.

His highly anticipated quarter-final clash with Nick Kyrgios never materialized as the Australian pulled out with illness he suspected was caused by food poisoning.

But Federer flashed some brilliance in a fourth-round thumping of his old foe Rafael Nadal, beating the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3 in a reprise of his epic five-set win in the Australian Open final in January.