Milos Raonic made sure Miomir Kecmanovic's good luck finally ran out at the BNP Paribas Open. Raonic beat the 19-year-old Serb 6-4 6-3 on Thursday to reach the semifinals and improve to 19-4 at Indian Wells since 2014. Raonic fired 13 aces against no double faults in putting away Kecmanovic in 72 minutes on a sunny, windy and cool day in the Southern California desert. Kecmanovic was the first lucky loser to reach the quarterfinals at the tournament since it became a Masters 1000 event in 1990. Ranked 130th in the world, the Serb lost in qualifying, but his fortune soon turned. Three seeded players withdrew before the tournament began, clearing the way for Kecmanovic to become a lucky loser and receive a first-round bye.
The teenager certainly made the most of it. Kecmanovic got by three players, including 30th-seeded Laslo Djere, in straight sets to set up his second meeting with Raonic. That's where Kecmanovic's luck ended. Raonic won 88 percent of his first-serve points and saved all three break chances against him. In January, Raonic beat Kecmanovic in straight sets on his way to the title at Brisbane in January. The string of upsets continued on the women's side.
Belinda Bencic beat fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semis, ensuring her return to the top 20 in the rankings.
"I wouldn't believe I win today again," Bencic said. "I'm not going to the court with any expectation. I'm just trying to play. This is the mentality I have, and this is the mentality I'm going to keep having."
Bencic was pushed to three sets for the first time in four matches at the tournament. She was coming off a straight-set upset of defending champion and top-ranked Naomi Osaka in the fourth round.
Pliskova raced to 4-1 lead before wrapping up the second set. In the third, she overcame a break point to hold at 2-all but only won one more game the rest of the way.
"Physically, it was tough somehow, and the wind didn't help much," Pliskova said. "So my serve was bad, my shots were bad." Bencic next plays the winner of Thursday's match between No. 8 Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams. Bencic improved to 18-3 this year. She won her third career title at Dubai last month and her first since 2015. The 22-year-old Swiss player missed five months in 2017 after wrist surgery. "When you're confident, you can really just trust your instincts and you don't have to think about it at all," Bencic said. "I'm definitely playing how I feel it, and it's going well so I'm not planning on changing that."