12:50 am - Thursday April 25, 2024

Indian Wells Masters: Novak Djokovic at the double, enters semis

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Indian Wells, USA:  Two-time champion Novak Djokovic cruised past an overmatched Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-3 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Indian Wells ATP Masters.

Djokovic, the world number two and the highest seed left in the draw after the early exit of number one Rafael Nadal, didn’t face a break point in the 68-minute encounter, although he insisted the match “wasn’t easy.”

“I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and it’s what I was looking for,” said Djokovic, who won the title in the California desert in 2008 and 2011 but fell in the semi-finals the past two years.

“First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point.

“I have done everything I wanted,” he said.

Benneteau, playing just the second Masters 1000 quarter-final of his career, faced break points in all but his first service game and was broken twice in each set.

The 32-year-old Frenchman’s run to the quarters — which included a second-round upset of 10th-ranked Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — was his best outing of a so-far difficult 2014.

He had failed to go beyond the second round in six prior ATP tournaments this season and had dropped 30 places in the rankings to number 65 since the end of 2013.

Djokovic, seeking his first title of 2014 after reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and semi-finals in Dubai in his only prior outings, awaits the winner of the last quarter-final between big-serving American John Isner, the 12th seed, and Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis. (Update: It’s Djokovic vs Isner)

“I came in Indian Wells without a title in this season, and that is a different feel from previous years,” Djokovic said. “So of course it’s important for me to do well. I’m on the right path and playing semi-finals.”

The other semi-final was set on Thursday, with seventh-seeded, four-time champion Roger Federer advancing to a meeting with Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov — who shocked Nadal in the third round.

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