Indian Wells Men's Semi Preview: Federer-Sock, Wawrinka-Carreno Busta

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Roger Federer and Jack Sock have played twice before, including once at Indian Wells in 2015, and Federer has won in straight sets both times. (AP)

Stan Wawrinka [3] vs. Pablo Carreño Busta [21]

Don’t look now, but Stan is having another one of his refuse-to-lose runs. This is his first trip to the semifinals at Indian Wells in 10 tries, and he’s done it in style, with back-to-back third-set tiebreaker victories over Yoshihito Nishioka and Dominic Thiem. But Carreño Busta, who looks to be putting together a breakout season at age 25, has been just as persistent. The Spaniard upset David Goffin in three sets, then outlasted his fellow Pablo, Cuevas, in a third-set tiebreaker. The slow hard courts at Indian Wells, which reports say are even slower than usual this year, have obviously helped Carreño Busta, and so has the confidence he gained from a run to the final in Rio last month. But Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open champion, likes slow courts, too; he’s played Carreño Busta twice, both times on clay, and both times he’s been too strong for him. Winner: Wawrinka

Roger Federer [9] vs. Jack Sock [17]

Fortunately for Federer, but unfortunately for fans and broadcasters, the vaunted Quarter of Death turned out to be little more than child’s play for him. He beat Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-3, and then never had to hit a ball to move past Nick Kyrgios, who pulled out due to an illness. The result is that Federer has played three hours of tennis to reach the semifinal, while his opponent has played nearly nine. Sock has taken the scenic route to the semis, winning all four of his matches in three sets. These two guys have played twice before, including once at Indian Wells in 2015, and Federer has won in straight sets both times. We can be pretty sure the four-time BNP champ will play his normal game; the question will be whether Sock can play his. Will the confidence he has built so far this season overflow into this match? Or is he due for a physical and mental letdown? I’m hoping for the former, and a close match, but I’m suspecting the latter. Winner: Federer

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