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Anderson downs Aussie Open champion in California
- Updated: March 13, 2014
Kevin Anderson handed Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka his first defeat of 2014 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells ATP Masters.
South Africa’s Anderson beat Wawrinka 7-6 (7/1) 4-6 6-1 to end Wawrinka’s run of 13 straight match wins to open 2014, which included a title run in Chennai before his maiden Grand Slam triumph in Melbourne, reports Associated Press.
“I knew it’s going to happen,” Wawrinka said. “I’m not going to keep winning every tournament.”
Two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray of Britain was another fourth-round casualty, falling 4-6 7-5 6-3 to big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
Raonic set up a quarter-final clash with Alexandr Dolgopolov. The 28th-seeded Ukrainian showed no sign of a let-down after his third-round ouster of world No 1 Rafael Nadal, beating Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-4.
World No 2 Novak Djokovic faced a tough night match against red-hot Croatian Marin Cilic.
Wawrinka’s exit ended the possibility of a tasty all-Swiss quarter-final between him and Roger Federer.
Instead Anderson will face Federer, a four-time champion in the California desert who edged German veteran Tommy Haas 6-4 6-4.
Wawrinka, whose run to the title in Australia included wins over Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal, fought back from an early break in the second set force a third.
But he said he never really felt comfortable. “It took me a lot of energy to come back here, to practice well, to win the first two matches, especially against (Ivo) Karlovic,” said Wawrinka, who hadn’t played an ATP tournament since the Australian Open.
“Today I felt that my energy was a little bit down. Mentally, I wasn’t ready.”
Anderson, who had lost three prior matches against Wawrinka, said he adopted an aggressive strategy based on their most recent meeting ÔÇô when Wawrinka beat him in three sets in Shanghai last year.
“We had a really close match,” Anderson said. “I lost in a third set breaker. Just taking what I could from that match, one of the things was to try to be as aggressive as I can when possible, and I thought I did that quite well for most of the match.”
Raonic wasn’t surprised to find himself facing world number 31 Dolgopolov from a quarter of the draw that included both Nadal and Murray.
He said Wawrinka’s Grand Slam breakthrough in Melbourne had shown players like himself and Dolgopolov that the game’s biggest names ÔÇô Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray ÔÇô were indeed beatable.
“I think everybody sort of in that top-10 range, also a little bit outside trying to break through, took a deep breath and said, ‘Why can’t that be me?'” Raonic said.
Raonic and Anderson, both known for their big serves, said the desert hardcourts are also ideally suited to their games, a belief echoed by American John Isner.
“For guys that are big, it’s a perfect surface for us,” said Isner, who beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3 and will face Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in the quarters.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that myself, Milos, and Kevin are all still alive in this tournament.”