Wawrinka downs Thiem to reach Indian Wells semis

Indian Wells, California: Stan Wawrinka relied on his serve to power through a final-set tiebreaker for a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2) victory which put the Swiss into a first semifinal at the Indian Wells Masters on Thursday.
The three-time Grand Slam winner worked for two and a half hours to take down the ninth-ranked Thiem, whose reputation as a threat is growing by the week.
The Austrian winner of the Rio event this season struggled until the end, but was felled in the final-set decider by the Wawrinka attack.
“I served well in the tiebreaker, that was the key,” said Wawrinka, the current US Open champion. “It was a great match, we were both playing attacking tennis.’’
“I played well and I’m happy to get to a first semifinal here. The player who was most aggressive today was dictating the point and that was what I tried to do.”
Wawrinka now stands 3-1 over Thiem after winning his first Indian Wells quarterfinal after losses to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at this stage in 2008 and 2011.
Wawrinka’s Saturday opponent will be Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who booked his first Masters 1000 semifinal place, by beating Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), saving two match points.
Carreno Busta, now 13-4 since Australia, lost the Rio final to Dominic Thiem, who is set to play Stan Wawrinka in a quarterfinal later on Thursday.
“It’s an amazing feeling, my first time in the semifinal in a Masters,” the winner said. “This is one of the best tournaments in the year and maybe one of the tougher, because all the people is playing here, all the top 20. “It’s a really great result for me.”
In the women’s draw, Kristina Mladenovic will breach the WTA top 20 after beating former champion Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. The Frenchwoman will next play Russian 14 Elena Vesnina, who needed more than two hours to overcome Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. The 36-year-old American saved 10 of 15 break points in the back-and-forth contest, but was not helped by seven double-faults. Former number one Wozniacki from Denmark came to the court with a 3-0 lead; Mladenovic was playing as the first French woman in the quarterfinals since Marion Bartoli in 2012.
Mladenovic gained revenge for an Asian finals defeat from late 2016 against Wozniacki.
“That final in Hong Kong at the end of last year was very painful for me, very frustrating. I thought I was playing well that entire week and, in the final, I was just kind of exhausted and injured,” she said.
“I wanted to take my revenge; it was not easy. It was a tough battle and tough conditions. We played two hours and a half. I didn’t start well at all (1-5 down in the opening set),” Mladenovic said. “I just stayed very positive and composed, because I was battling with myself first.”
Wozniacki tried to look at the positives of her run in the desert.
“At the end of the day I tried my hardest, and that’s all I can do. Obviously, I would have liked to have been further and tried to win the tournament.
“But I can take some positives with me for this week and just keep working towards Miami and then other big tournaments that are coming up,” Wozniacki said. — dpa