Friday, March 18, 2016

Azarenka, Pliskova breeze into BNP semifinals

   Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Pliskova made quick work of their opponents in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
   Azarenka, the No. 13 seed and 2012 champion from Belarus, blitzed unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-0 in 67 minutes on Thursday in Indian Wells.
   Rybarikova, at No. 97 the lowest-ranked BNP quarterfinalist since No. 99 Jamie Hampton in 2012, was treated for a right leg injury after the first set.
   "I think the key today was the start," Azarenka told reporters. "I really started aggressive, taking opportunities and I felt like I was in full control.
   "I think in the second set she wasn't feeling really well, but it was important for me to stay in the moment and keep dictating. It's easy to lose focus and pay too much attention to your opponent."
   Pliskova, seeded 18th, dominated unseeded Daria Kasatkina, an 18-year-old Russian, 6-3, 6-2 in 63 minutes.
   Pliskova also reached the doubles final with Julia Goerges of Germany. They will face Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe, playing near her home in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. Both teams are unseeded
   In tonight's women's singles semifinals, top seed and two-time champion Serena Williams will face No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at 7 PDT, followed by the 6-foot (1.83-meter) Azarenka against the 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova. ESPN2 will televise both matches.
   Williams is 9-0 against Radwanska, and the series between Azarenka and Pliskova is tied 1-1.
   On the men's side, No. 12 seed Milos Raonic of Canada reached the BNP semifinals for the second consecutive year, and No. 15 David Goffin of Belgium advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.
   Raonic topped No. 13 Gael Monfils of France 7-5, 6-3, and the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Goffin eliminated 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-2.
   Raonic, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters), lost to Roger Federer in last year's semis after beating three-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarters.
   Monfils was trying to become the first Frenchman to reach the semis at Indian Wells since Guy Forget lost to Jim Courier in the 1991 final.
   Goffin survived four set points in the tiebreaker against Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, and saved 11 of 12 break points.
   "It's good that in tennis you can find some solution against big players like Marin or Milos or (John) Isner,” Goffin said. “Maybe I'm quicker. I think I can take the ball earlier. I have other weapons. That's why tennis is a nice sport.
   "I'm really happy with the way I managed the important points. I think it was the key of the match, to win the first set and to be more relaxed in the second.”
   Goffin won in straight sets for the first time in his four tournament matches after receiving a first-round bye. He saved two match points against 18-year-old wild card Frances Tiafoe of the United States in the second round and edged third-seeded Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) in the fourth round to end a 14-match losing streak against top-10 players.
   The other two men's semifinals are scheduled for this afternoon. No. 4 seed Nadal will meet No. 5 Kei Nishikori at noon (ESPN), followed by No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France (Tennis Channel).
   Djokovic has won the last two Indian Wells titles and four overall.
   In a men's doubles semifinal, No. 7 seeds and reigning U.S. Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France nipped eighth-seeded Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 4-6, 6-3 [10-6].
   No. 6 seeds and defending champions Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jack Sock of the United States are scheduled to play unseeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain today in the other semifinal.

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