Novak Djokovic edges Roger Federer to win BNP Paribas Open
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -– No. 2 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 8 Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open for the third time.
The two stars produced a dramatic finish in their 33rd meeting. Federer played clean, aggressive tennis early, breaking in Djokovic’s first service game and pocketing the first set in 31 minutes. Federer didn’t face a break point until the eighth game of the second set.
But the slow-starting Djokovic raised his performance in time to stage a comeback. He finally broke at 4-3 in the second set and earned another one at 1-1 in the final set. The Serb served for the match at 5-4, but Federer broke him easily. Djokovic was able to shake it off and rebounded to play solidly in the decisive tiebreaker.
Federer said the wind played tricks on both players toward the end of the third set, which helped him secure the late break but hurt him in the tiebreaker.
“A bit more wind coming from my side, which made it more difficult for him maybe to serve it out,” Federer said. “It would have been easier for me to get on the offensive in the rallies. And then the same thing switched around in the breaker. He then played the first six points with the wind. He took advantage of that, and maybe against the wind that’s when you have to get those easy points and those service winners I couldn’t get and he couldn’t get.
“So it was an interesting end to the match, no doubt. 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.”
Djokovic recorded his first title of the year and stopped Federer’s 11-match winning streak. The 26-year-old Serb also avenged a loss to Federer in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships last month. Federer still leads the head-to-head 17-16.
“I’m just very happy and thrilled to be able to win the first title in this season,” Djokovic said. “It was the first final that I played this year. It was necessary for my confidence, and hopefully I can carry that into Miami and the rest of the season.”
With his 42nd title, Djokovic passed Federer’s new coach, Stefan Edberg, for sole possession of 14th place on the all-time list.
The ATP Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray has now combined to win 33 of the last 35 Masters 1000 tournaments. Djokovic owns 17 Masters 1000 titles for his career, tied for third with Andre Agassi, behind Federer (21) and Nadal (26).
Despite the loss, Federer will rise to No. 5 in Monday’s rankings. The 32-year-old Swiss had been seeking his fifth Indian Wells title and his 20th match victory of the year, which would have equaled Marin Cilic for the most on tour. Djokovic has now played Federer twice this season and already he’s seen the improvement in Federer’s game from last year.
“He has more depth on his shots, especially from the backhand side,” Djokovic said. “He’s opening with his backhand shot down the line. He gives himself an opportunity to finish with the forehand. He serves well. 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.”
After a positive two weeks in Indian Wells, Federer will fly to Miami for the Sony Open and decide there whether he will play the tournament.
“It was overall a good performance,” Federer said. “I’m actually very happy with the tournament.”