19
Mar
11

It will be No’s 1 & 2 in tomorrow’s Indian Wells final.

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in three sets to take the world number two ranking and set up an Indian Wells final against Rafael Nadal. The 23-year-old Serbian will replace 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer in the rankings after a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals. Djokovic took his 2011 record to 17-0 and next faces Nadal, after the Spaniard beat Juan Martin del Potro. Top seed Nadal recovered from a slow start to defeat the Argentine 6-4 6-4. It was the first time the pair had met since the 2009 US Open semi-final, which Del Potro won before going on to take his first Grand Slam title. A wrist injury then meant he missed nearly all of 2010, but he has looked back to something approaching his best in recent weeks. He was given a helping hand at the start of Saturday’s first semi-final as Nadal made a sluggish start, missing a break point chance in the opening game before dropping serve himself moments later. The world number one was in trouble at 4-1 down but gathered himself impressively to reel off five straight games as he took the set, with his forehand doing much of the damage. A single break at 2-2 in the second was enough as Nadal saw out the victory to end a three-match losing streak against Del Potro and close in on a third Indian Wells title.

Djokovic has been the man to beat this year and has had the better of Federer in recent encounters, including victories in the US and Australian Open semi-finals and the Dubai final. The pattern continued in the California desert as Djokovic’s movement and relentless pressure from the baseline had Federer repeatedly misfiring, with a forehand into the net giving up the first break at 2-2. The Serbian scrambled brilliantly to recover from 15-40 in the following game and closed out the set after 44 minutes, with one spectacular winner at the net prompting a huge fist pump. Federer needed to find some inspiration of his own and it came with a rasping forehand winner down the line, accompanied by a bellow of “Come on!”, as he broke in game three of the second set, and the Swiss broke again to take the set and force a third. A scintillating match took further twists and turns in the decider as both men were now regularly producing moments of magic, with Federer dropping serve at the start, roaring back with a break to love for 2-2, and then double-faulting to fall behind again at 3-2. But it was Djokovic who grabbed the initiative, a run of 11 straight points earning him three chances for the double break before a thumping forehand converted the third of those. Djokovic held his nerve as he saw off another break point to serve out the victory and set up a final between what the rankings will say are now the best two players in the world.

 

 

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