World number one Roger Federer survived a scare from unseeded Borna Coric to beat him 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday and set up a final showdown with Juan Martin del Potro who cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Milos Raonic.
The partisan crowd erupted when Federer broke Coric at love to take the deciding set and end the unexpectedly competitive two hour twenty minute battle against the 21-year-old Croatian on a windy morning in the California desert.
An upset was on the cards when the speedy Coric used his ferocious backhand to take the first set off the Swiss, the first time defending champion Federer had dropped a set at Indian Wells in nine matches.
He then broke Federer to start the second set and silence the crowd, which included Hall of Famers Rod Laver and Pete Sampras. But despite playing below par, the 20-time Grand Slam champion eeked out a victory.
"Those 10 minutes when he was up a set and a break were tough for me to accept," Federer said during an on-court interview.
"I had to move on with it and say that I was just happy to stay in the game. Maybe he's going to get a bit nervous and I think that's exactly what happened," he said.
"And I got a bit lucky too of course. It was a good match and a tough one for him."