Del Potro joins Federer in BNP Paribas Open final

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Indian Wells, March 18 (IANS) Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro joined No.1 Roger Federer in the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells, California, rolling past Milos Raonic of Canada in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, in just over an hour for his 400th career win.

Facing one of the tour’s most powerful servers in Raonic, No.38, the 29-year-old Argentine won 24-of-27 (89 percent) of his first-serve points, and never faced a break point on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I think I was lucky in both sets. Milos has a great serve,” said del Potro, who joined Guillermo Vilas as the only other Argentine in the 400 Wins club.

“But I was very focused on my return game. I broke many times, and that was the key of the match.”

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The No.8 returns to the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time since 2013, when he fell to Rafael Nadal in the title match, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. He is seeking his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

Thirty-six-year-old Swiss superstar Federer reached the final earlier on the same day with a hard-fought 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory over unseeded 21-year-old Borna Coric.

The defending champion will play for a record sixth BNP Paribas Open title in Sunday’s final. He is into the final in Indian Wells for the fourth straight time, having missed the event in 2016.

But the world No. 1 will have to overcome the 6-foot-6-inch Argentine who beat him at the US Open last year.

“I think we have an interesting matchup. We both know what the other is trying to do, and we try to stop the other person from doing it,” Federer said at a press conference after his win.

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“It’s basically an arm wrestle the whole time, and I think we enjoy that.”

In Federer, del Potro faces an opponent he is more than familiar with.

“He’s the favorite to win tomorrow, but I will try to do my best tennis,” del Potro said at a press conference after Saturday’s match. “I beat him in the past, and I know how can I do to repeat that, but is not easy. It will be a good challenge to see how my level is against him.”

“I think everybody was expecting that final, and I will try to enjoy the atmosphere on court,” he added.

–IANS

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