Raonic books semifinal showdown with Del Potro in Indian Wells Masters
Raonic books semifinal showdown with Del Potro in Indian Wells Masters
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 semifinals 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 sympathize 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 semifinals, 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.”
Kariman Abuljadayel has sights set on more Olympic glory and inspiring a nation
- Saudi sprinter made history at Rio Olympics becoming the first woman from the Kingdom to run in the 100m
- Abuljadayel hopes to inspire more women into taking up sport in Saudi Arabia
Kariman Abuljadayel has not finished making history. The Saudi Arabian sprinter made a name for herself as the first woman from the Kingdom to run in the 100 meters at the Olympics. That race in Rio de Janeiro two years ago did much to change the perception of female athletes in Saudi Arabia, coming four years after Sarah Attar became the first Saudi Arabian woman to take part in the global games.
What could prove to be more of a boon for women in the Kingdom than even Abuljadayel’s and Attar’s remarkable runs are the changes currently taking place in the country. Last month the ban on women driving was lifted, just a few months after females were allowed in sports stadiums and the inaugural all-women’s run took place in Riyadh in March.
Abuljadayel said she hopes that these moves will prove to be game-changers, not just in terms of equality, but that they will also be a springboard to success for aspiring Saudi Arabian sportswomen.
“I feel like the idea of allowing Saudi girls to drive is giving them independence, empowering them to dream and (helping them) achieve that dream,” she told Arab News.
“It will facilitate them getting to sports events and help in many areas. And will being able to attend sports events boost women’s sport? Definitely.
“I want girls to appreciate the opportunities that Saudi Arabia is creating and not take them for granted. They need to take these opportunities and experiences to help them grow.
“I believe it is only a matter of time before we will be a society fully promoting sport.”
If the latter goal is embraced with the zeal with which the 24-year-old Abuljadayel exudes and attacks every training session, she believes great things beckon for Saudi Arabian sport, despite the country’s unremarkable Olympic track record. The Kingdom has claimed only three medals — one silver and two bronze — in 10 appearances at the Olympics. Saudi Arabian women were first allowed to compete at the Games at London 2012 following pressure from the International Olympic Committee.
Abuljadayel said: “Gold is not impossible. We’ve seen many countries winning gold. But in order to win gold, you need to go the extra mile.
“It’s (about) hard work, dedication and patience for years. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
“Eventually if you really want to be the best in the world, of course you can be the best in the world. I live in a society right now that provides other Saudi girls with these kinds of opportunities.
“It’s up to them to take them and take (sport) to the next level.”
Abuljadayel lamented the fact she was denied such opportunities, and described being unable to attend sports events in her homeland as “a huge miss.”
Yet even so, the 24-year-old would not be deterred from pursuing her passion for sport.
“Along with my friends I was part of a football team and we organized matches in our school in Riyadh. All proceeds from the matches went to the workers in our school,” she said.
Abuljadayel never dreamed of participating in the Olympics. But then came the watershed moment in the summer of 2012 when the ban on Saudi Arabian women taking part was lifted, shortly before the London Games and 800 meter runner Attar joined judo player Wojdan Shaherkani to make history.
Attar provided one of the stand-out images of the those Olympics when, resplendent in a white hijab and vibrant green, long-sleeved jacket, she became the first woman from the Kingdom to compete at the Games. The then 19-year-old received a standing ovation and worldwide acclaim for her landmark achievement, despite finishing last in her qualifying heat by some distance.
Abuljadayel was so inspired that she joined the track team of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where she studied architecture. Just four years later she was one of four females competing for Saudi Arabia at the Rio Olympics.
She finished seventh in her 100 meter heat, but she was also widely lauded for her pioneering feat.
Now Abuljadayel hopes to enhance her reputation by qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. And, if she does, she will not just be content to take part like she did when she was in Rio.
Abuljadayel, who just months before her Olympic debut set a national record in the 60 meters at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, said: “It was a milestone that I reached Rio, but I feel like it’s just the beginning of the road. It gave me experience to prepare me for the next step. For me, that’s qualifying for the upcoming rounds. That’s definitely my goal.
“If I go to the next Olympics, I will definitely know what to expect and how to react and the amount of work to put in.”
Before then, however, she has her work cut out adapting to a change of discipline after switching from the 100 meters to the 400 meters. Her coach felt that the statuesque six-footer’s stride pattern would better suit longer distances.
The doughty Abuljadayel seems equipped for any challenge she faces on and off the track, though, including that of being a role model in her homeland and the Middle East in general. Eloquent and animated, she has also excelled academically, becoming an
accredited architect, after being awarded her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“I feel like my experience can help motivate others. Before me there was no one. No one had run the 100 meters,” she said.
“So, if a girl thought: ‘I want to run the 100 meters’ before I did it in Rio, she would think: ‘But no one did it before, why would I?’. But after I ran the race, she would think: ‘Oh, she did it, so can I.’ That’s actually great. I hope I can be a role model.
“But that’s up to people, not me. What I can deliver is results and hope those results inspire people. If it’s in Saudi Arabia, great. If it’s outside of (the country) even better.
“At the end of the day, I am a proud Saudi citizen and I hope my community is proud of me.”
Abuljadayel, who has trained in the US and Berlin, said that her own role model is someone outside of sport — her mother Suraya.
Of her galvanizing impact, she said: “She’s the one that I go to, she’s the one I call. She’s a huge factor in my success. She was there in Rio, at the World (Indoors) Championships and all my competitions. Having this unconditional support for me means the world.”
Abuljadayel, who is currently taking a break from training, enjoyed watching the Green Falcons play at the recent World Cup. She even traveled to Switzerland last month to attend the inaugural Julius Baer Zurich E-Prix, the penultimate race of the 2017/18 all-electric ABB FIA Formula E Championship season, describing it as “inspiring” and “a one-of-a-kind experience.”
Her visit was also symbolic because the championship — which was launched in 2014 — will make its Middle East debut in Riyadh on Dec. 15, the 10-team discipline’s 2018/19 season-opener.
Abuljadayel is “really excited” about the race, particularly because it is set to include activities for women just months after they were first allowed behind the wheel in the country.
“I feel it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to inspire the millennials and other people in Riyadh to witness such a new and innovative sport that can give you entertainment but with sustainable solutions,” she said.
“The Riyadh race agreement is for 10 years, so this will really accelerate the development of the sport in the Kingdom. It’s held in cities like New York, Berlin and Shanghai and the advent of hosting this in Riyadh opens up lots of opportunities for driving enthusiasts in the country, including women.”
SAUDI ARABIAN GAME CHANGERS
SARAH ATTAR: Attar was the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete at the Olympics. She came last in her 800 meter heat in London but won the hearts of fans around the world. The photo of her crossing the finish line in 2012 is one of the truly iconic sporting images of the past decade. She followed up her London run by moving up to the marathon in Rio four years later.
WOJDAN SHAHERKANI: Shaherkani took up judo thanks to her father being a judo referee. It was a decision she would not regret as she became the second woman from Saudi Arabia to take part at the Olympics. The 22-year-old was a blue belt when she competed in the London Games and she said: “In the future we will and I will be a star for women’s participation.”
ASEEL AL-HAMAD: Al-Hamad is the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation and is also on the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission. She drove a lap of the French Grand Prix’s Le Castellet circuit in a Formula One car on the day the ban on women driving on the Kingdom’s roads was lifted. “Today is the birth of women in motorsport,” she said.