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Federer equals season-best start to reach Indian Wells semi-final

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Roger Federer

World number one Roger Federer equalled his best start to a season when he beat South Korea’s Chung Hyeon to reach the Indian Wells Masters semi-final.

The defending champion claimed his 16th victory of 2018 with a 7-5 6-1 win over the world number 26 in California.

The Swiss has matched the start he made to the 2006 season, where he went on to win 33 of his first 34 matches.

He faces Borna Coric in the last four after the Croat beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

Federer, searching for a record sixth title, broke Chung’s serve four times as he won in one hour 23 minutes.

He won 70% of points on his first serve and hit 12 aces to beat Chung for the second time this season.

The win ensures that Federer will remain number one after the tournament is finished, while Chung will surpass Kei Nishikori as the highest-ranked Asian player.

Federer reached the final of all four Grand Slams in 2006, winning three and only losing the French Open to Rafael Nadal in four sets.

He also won four ATP Masters titles and ended the year with a win loss record of 92-5.

Following the match, Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas announced his retirement from the ATP Tour.

The German, who won 15 singles titles, finished eight seasons ranked in the top 20.

“The sport gave me cherished friendships, an ability to travel the world, and opportunities to create incredible memories,” the 39-year-old said.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Unlike their Australian Open semi-final, from which Chung was forced to retire with a nasty blister, this was a proper contest – but only for the first hour.

Federer took the first set on a cool and blustery desert night, and then had to save four break points in the opening game of the second. After that, it was much more straightforward for the champion.

He is now guaranteed to hold on to the world number one ranking until at least the end of the Miami Open, which finishes on 1 April.

Pete Sampras, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles between 1990-2002, is rarely seen at tennis events these days, but made an exception for Federer as he made the journey from his Los Angeles home.

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BBC Sport – Tennis

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