INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Milos Raonic made sure Miomir Kecmanovic's good luck finally ran out at the BNP Paribas Open.
The Canadian beat the 19-year-old Serb 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semifinals and improve to 19-4 at Indian Wells since 2014.
Raonic, the No. 13 seed from Thornhill, Ont., 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.
"I think the conditions are good for me, especially when the sun's out," Raonic said of Indian Wells, where he has made at least the semifinals in his last four appearances. "The court heats up a little bit. There is a good amount of jump on the court.
"This year it's a little bit slower than the previous years, but it allows me to take a few more swipes at a few more shots, and I can do different things with my serve that I need to get ahead in the point."
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 per cent of his first-serve points and saved all three break chances against him.
In January, Raonic beat Kecmanovic in straight sets in Brisbane.
Raonic is looking for his ninth career ATP Tour title, but has never won at the top level below Grand Slams — Masters 1000.
When asked where a title this week would rank in his career, Raonic said, "It would be there, I believe, parallel to the Wimbledon final (in 2016), if not higher, just because it's going through a week amongst the best players in the world without sort of ending with a loss."
Raonic will face No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem in a semifinal on Saturday after No. 18 seed Gael Monfils of France withdrew from his quarterfinal against the Austrian, leading to a walkover on Thursday night.
Raonic is 2-0 in his career against Thiem, winning both matches in straight sets on hard-courts in 2016.
"You can't give him too much time," Raonic said of Thiem. "He can do a lot of good things, get ahead in the point, and start to run you around a lot if he has time to get into a point and work it."
Meanwhile, 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's victory set up a semifinal against No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber, who beat error-prone Venus Williams 7-6 (3), 6-3 in a match-up of 30-somethings.
Williams led 4-2 in the first set before Kerber won three straight games to go up 5-4. Williams broke the German to tie it 5-all and then held for a 6-5 lead. But Kerber held in the next game to force the tiebreaker, which she dominated.
Williams fought off two break points to tie the second set 2-all before Kerber again won three games in arrow for a 5-2 lead. She broke Williams in the match's longest game that went to deuce five times when Williams' forehand went wide.
Williams alternately smacked winners from the baseline and sprayed shots beyond the lines. The 38-year-old former world No. 1 was a semifinalist in the desert last year.
But Williams hasn't made it farther than the quarterfinals at any Premier Mandatory or Grand Slam tourney since last year's BNP Paribas Open. Until Kerber stopped her, Williams had won four matches in a row for the first time since last year in the desert.
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."
Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., advanced to the women's semis on Wednesday. She'll face No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine on Friday.
In women's doubles, Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski was eliminated in the semifinals on Thursday. The fifth-seeded team of Dabrowski and Yifan Xu of China lost 6-2, 7-6 (5) to Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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