Roger Federer is in the semi-finals at Indian Wells after winning his 16th match in a row in 2018. Paul Buck / EPAAfter securing the #1 spot and equaling the best start to his season in 2006, Roger Federer faces Croatian Borna Coric in the semi-final of the Indian Wells Masters. The Next Generation player defeated three seeded players on his way to the semi-final, including Dubai Open winner Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round and Acapulco Finalist Kevin Anderson in the quarter-final.

With two bagels in the initial rounds of the tournament, Borna Coric looks like he’s in fine form. But can he defeat the unbeaten player with the best opening to a season since 2006?

History

Federer and Coric have met once before in 2015, Coric’s breakthrough year. They met in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-final, which Federer won in straight sets in an emphatic fashion.

Strategy and Analysis

An important point to note is that Coric is split 2-2 with both Nadal and Murray, an impressive feat for someone who’s never seen a top 30 ranking. It’s telling of Coric and his ability to dismantle the creme of the top when he’s having a good day or tournament.

That being said, Coric plan of action will be to avoid kick serves to his backhand, as Federer will most definitely slice it low enough for Coric to find it difficult to retrieve the ball. Since the ball is flying slow and bouncing high, Coric should be able to dominate if Federer hits topspin shots. The likelihood of that happening is bleak, however, so Coric should be looking to move towards the net to finish points and/or pushing Federer to the ends of the court and mixing the pace of shots.

Coric and Federer at Dubai (2015)

Expect Federer to slice a lot more than usual and hit flatter shots to stop Coric from being able to hit shots with better positioning. Serving and volleying will not be out of the ordinary either, as Coric might not be able to return the Federer serve as well as one might expect.

The likelihood for Federer to execute his game plan is higher than Coric executing his. Federer will be rushing Coric every chance he gets, and a player like Coric is more accustomed to slower surfaces, which might be a problem.

 

Prediction

Federer in straight sets. Federer’s game stacks up well against Coric, and with the season Federer has had so far, it’s difficult to see any other outcome for the match.