Djokovic denies Federer to win Indian Wells title

Novak Djokovic rallied past Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) for his first title of the year and third at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.

Djokovic and Federer were squaring off for the 33rd time, with the second-seeded Serb snapping Federer's 11-match win streak. The Swiss now holds a 17-16 lead in their closely contested ATP Head 2 Head series, with Djokovic exacting revenge after dropping their most recent encounter 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 just two weeks ago in the Dubai semi-finals.

"It was an interesting end to the match, no doubt," said Federer. "But I think he played well. At the end he made sure he kept the ball in play and I might have made a few too many errors when it really mattered. But I think he made a crucial sort of 20 minutes, half and hour midway through the second set and third set where things could have gone either way. But credit to him for toughening it out and winning that second set and getting the breaker in the third."

"As I said before the match today, very few points will decide a winner, and that's what happened," said Djokovic. "Roger is playing in a very high level.... He just played better than he did in the last 13, 14 months. I needed to really be in the top of my game and very concentrated the last moment in order to win. That's what I've done. Very proud of my achievements during this tournament."

Here is how the final unfolded.

FIRST SET - Federer 6-3

The early stages of the final mirrored the second and third sets of their previous meeting in Dubai, with Federer attacking with deep penetrating returns off a shaky Djokovic serve. The Serb misfired on eight of 12 first serves and double faulted twice in his opening service game to hand the opening break to Federer after a forehand sailed long.

Federer maintained a similar pattern from the baseline as he did in the Arabian Desert, injecting significant pace behind his backhand and attacking with conviction with a bevy of serve and volley points and heavy groundstrokes.

The four-time champion would hold for 4-1 with a stellar cross-court passing shot off a Djokovic approach and hammered a pair of clutch service winners for 5-2. He would secure the first set with a hold to love.

Two days after winning 89 per cent of second serve points against Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals, Federer once again protected his second serve with exceptional efficiency (75 per cent in the first set).

SECOND SET - Djokovic 6-3

Federer maintained his calm, calculating demeanor early in the second set, escaping from a pair of troublesome service games as Djokovic pressed for the break.

Djokovic played with more energy as the set wore on, using his trademark agility to create opportunities off the four-time champion’s serve.

After holding from deuce in the seventh game, Djokovic conjured two break points at 15/40, converting on his second opportunity after Federer pulled a forehand wide.

The Serb would not be rattled by a 0/30 opening for Federer while serving for the set at 5-3, holding his nerve and reeling off four straight points to snatch the set 6-3.

A reversal of fortunes after an error-strewn first set, Djokovic fired three aces and 11 winners and benefitted from a drop in Federer’s serve efficiency.

THIRD SET - Djokovic 7-6(3)

Djokovic continued to make in-roads in Federer’s service games in the third set, creating a break point in the opening game. The Basel native would fight to hold, but was not so fortunate in his next service game, surrendering a critical break for 1-2 after staving off two break points.

In contrast with the early stages of the match, a more aggressive Djokovic hit his spots down-the-line with his forehand and refused to allow Federer to crash the net.

A double fault and a booming return winner off a Djokovic second serve gave Federer a 15/30 look to get back on serve, but the Belgrade native dug in his heels, holding for 5-3.

The Indian Wells faithful rose to their feet as Federer laced a forehand pass into the corner for a 0/40 lead with Djokovic serving for the match two games later. A day after twice failing to close out John Isner in straight sets, the World No. 2 would be broken once again, misfiring wide on a forehand to give Federer the break for 5-5.

With a fifth title in the Coachella Valley in sight, Federer would dramatically win 12 of 13 points to edge ahead 6-5.

Djokovic held to force a tie-break as tensions on Stadium court reached a pulsating crescendo, with both players rising to the occasion in rallies.

Djokovic was granted a mini-break on the opening point of the deciding tie-break when Federer overcooked a backhand. The Swiss could not overcome the ensuing onslaught from the second-seed, succumbing 7-3 after a backhand found the net.

Djokovic won just exactly one more point than Federer, 99 to 98.

"When I served for the match, he played a fantastic game. I couldn't do much about it. I managed to regroup and get into the tiebreak," said Djokovic.

Federer collected $500,000 and 600 points, and will climb three spots to No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. He next travels to Miami for the Sony Open Tennis.

Date: 17th March 2014, Source: ATP


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