INDIAN WELLS – Milos Raonic, coming off an injury-riddled 2017, booked a semi-final clash with comeback king Juan Martin del Potro at the ATP Tour’s Indian Wells Masters on Friday.
The 27-year-old Raonic defeated American Sam Querrey 7-5 2-6 6-3 to pick up just his fourth match win of the season and is seeking to capture his ninth career ATP Tour title.
He’ll be up against the eighth-ranked player in the world in Argentina’s Del Potro, who beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the day’s other quarter-final.
“I am very happy I was able to put it together today,” Raonic said. “I’m in the semis. I am happy with that. I know I can play better.”
Raonic lost in the final of this event in 2016 and has now made it to the semi-finals in his last three appearances.
Raonic didn’t play in Indian Wells last year because of a string of injuries and surgeries that decimated his season.
“It’s been a catastrophe,” he said of the time off due to injuries.
The list of things that have put him in the infirmary in the past year is lengthy and might have sent another person into permanent retirement.
“Let’s go down the list. Right adductor, left glut at the beginning of the year. Then I tore my hamstring at the beginning of February.
“After Wimbledon, I had to have wrist surgery. Through the summer I tried to play a few events, tried to treat the issue. That wasn’t possible.
“I had surgery just before the US Open. And then in November, I hurt my knee.”
Del Potro can certainly sympathise with Raonic. For Del Potro, reaching the semis is another feather in the cap of his comeback from injuries as he is back in the top 10 for the first time since 2014.
“He has everything to be in the top again,” Del Potro said of Raonic. “His game is so good. His serves are very strong. He’s very good player.
“So he just needs a couple of weeks to improve his ranking and be where he deserves to be.”
Former US Open champ Del Potro stepped up his bid for a second straight tournament victory with his over two-hour quarter-final win.
Del Potro, who won a title earlier this month in Acapulco, Mexico, fended off a stern challenge from Kohlschreiber.
“It wasn’t an easy match as everyone could see,” the 2009 US Open champion said. “I was waiting for my chance to find my game and I did after the first set.”
The 29-year-old Del Potro improved to 15-3 on the season as he is looking to get back into the Indian Wells final for the first time since 2013, when he lost to Rafael Nadal.
Del Potro dropped to No 1 045 in the world before beginning his comeback from three left wrist surgeries in 2016.
“But thank God, I’m here and healthy,” he said. “I’m playing tennis again. I’m in the top 10 again.
“I have too much love from the crowd, for my fans, and I’m doing this because I love it.”
Del Potro hit five aces, had no double faults and won 75 percent of his first-serve points against world No. 37 Kohlschreiber.
Del Potro said his back is giving him some trouble but he can still play with it.
“All my body feels tight,” he said.
“But this is the last effort of the weekend, and I’m in the semi-finals, and I’m trying to keep winning.
“It’s going to be a really tough, tough match tomorrow. But after that, my body will have a few days to recover and I will need it.”