Thiem into Indian Wells semifinals as injured Monfils withdraws

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Milos Raonic (CAN) celebrates match point as he won his quarterfinal match against Miomir Kecmanovic (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. — Reuters

INDIAN WELLS, United States — World No. 7 Dominic Thiem reached an ATP Indian Wells Masters semifinal showdown with Milos Raonic without hitting a ball Thursday as injured Gael Monfils withdrew.

France's Monfils, ranked 19th in the world, pulled out shortly before his scheduled quarter-final against Thiem with left Achilles tendon trouble.

Oft-injured Monfils said he'd felt discomfort in his ankle for a couple of days and had been receiving treatment, but the pain was worse after his fourth-round win over Philipp Kohlschreiber on Wednesday night.

"I tried a little jog this morning, and I couldn't really actually push on it," he said. "Then we taped it. Then I hit a little bit tonight, and I felt that I cannot be 100 percent. I have this pain, and it wasn't the right choice to play."

He said an ultrasound exam confirmed severe inflammation, and he wasn't yet sure if it would prevent him from playing the upcoming Miami Masters.

"Very disappointing, to be honest," said Monfils, who was enjoying a 15-3 start to the season. "Because I was playing great tennis, feeling strong."

Thiem is through to the semifinals at Indian Wells for the first time, having reached the quarters once before in 2017. "I was really surprised," Thiem said, who was waiting to be taken to the court when he realized there was a problem.

"I'm really sorry for him. Obviously we are both playing well here. He's having a great season. I'm picking up my form again. So I think it would have been very tough but also a very fun match for us, for the crowd. So it's a pity," said Thiem who has lost both of his prior matches against Raonic.

Raonic ended the dream run of lucky loser Miomir Kecmanovic, beating the 19-year-old Serbian 6-3, 6-4.

Raonic, ranked 14th in the world, fired 13 aces and broke Kecmanovic once in each set to keep his bid to better his 2016 runner-up finish on track.

Kecmanovic, who failed to make it through qualifying but gained entry to the main draw when fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson withdrew, was the first lucky loser to reach the quarter-finals at Indian Wells since the tournament served as the inaugural ATP Masters 1000 in 1990.

Raonic's serve wasn't at it's booming best. He put only 55 percent of his first serves in play. "I think that can get better," Raonic said. "But there's other things I'm doing well, for sure. As soon as I had a chance on the first forehand, I was able to find my way to be the one dictating the point. And I put a lot of returns in and gave myself a chance there."

While the 130th-ranked Kecmanovic fell short in his bid to become just the third lucky loser to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event, he can regroup for the upcoming Miami Masters — where he has been given a wild card into the main draw.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be vying to set up a blockbuster semifinal when the play in the other two quarterfinals on Friday.

Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion who claimed his 100th career title at Dubai last month, takes on 67th ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland while Nadal faces 12th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov.

Former world No. 5 Tsonga

to play qualifying in Miami

Former world No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France will play the qualifying tournament at the ATP Miami Masters as he works to build his ranking in the wake of injury.

Tsonga, who sank to 140th in the world after 2018 knee surgery, won his 17th ATP title in Montpellier in February then reached the quarterfinals in Rotterdam to rise to 118th in the rankings.

However, the 34-year-old skipped this week's Indian Wells Masters, telling French media that he preferred not to make the trip because of the effects of the blood disorder sickle cell disease, which affects him particularly after long flights.

He has accepted a wild card into the qualifying draw in Miami, which will mark the first time he's played a qualifying tournament since 2007 at Queen's Club.

Players receiving wild cards directly into the men's main draw include Spanish veteran David Ferrer, who has said 2019 will e his last season.

On the women's side, Mari Osaka, sister of world No. 1 Naomi, will play her first WTA main draw singles match after receiving a wild card into the draw.

Mari Osaka, a year-older than her 21-year-old sister who has shot to the top of the rankings thanks to back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US and Australian Opens, has twice played in WTA doubles made draws, most recently with Naomi at the 2017 Toray Pan Pacific Open.

Other women's wild cards went to two of last year's junior Grand Slam singles champions in Roland Garros winner Cori Gauff of the United States and US Open champion Wang Xiyu of China.

Former British Davis Cup

Captain Hutchins, 73, dies

Paul Hutchins, Britain's former Davis Cup captain and long-serving Tennis administrator, died at the age of 73 on Thursday, the All England Club (AELTC) said. Hutchins, who had suffered from motor neurone disease, played professionally and spent 13 years as Davis Cup captain, taking Britain to the 1978 final against the United States.

"Paul was an extraordinary man, colleague and friend," Richard Lewis, chief executive of the AELTC, said in a statement. "As my Davis Cup captain, he was a great leader, had extraordinary attention to detail, and always had the best of intentions when dealing with everyone in Tennis."

Hutchins served a number of roles in British Tennis, including a stint as the LTA's Head of Men's Tennis, team leader of Britain's 2012 London Olympics Tennis squad and tournament director of the Nottingham championships. — Agencies


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