Novak Djokovic set up a mouth-watering final at the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal after a three-set win over Roger Federer.
The 6-3 3-6 6-2 win saw 23-year-old Serbian replace Federer as number two in the World rankings. It also saw Djokovic extend his perfect record this season to 17-0 though that it will take some doing to maintain it considering he is meeting Nadal in the final after the Spaniard defeated Argentine Del Potro 6-4 6-4 in the other semi-final.
Nadal was made to sweat for his victory though, even if that had much to do with Nadal's slow start than Potro's game. The Spaniard missed a break point in the opening game, went on to drop his own serve and found himself 4-1 down. However, urgency kicked in and he picked himself up, taking five straight games on the way to taking the set.
In the second, the World number one broke at 2-2 and saw through till victory. It ended a three-match losing streak against Del Potro.
I think I did well, said Nadal. I played a few good games. I think he had a few more mistakes than usual. That's help me a little bit. But in general, I think I played my best match in Indian Wells this year by far.
In the other match, Djokovic, who had had the better of Federer in their recent meetings, pressurized from the baseline and it saw Federer flustered after giving up the first break at 2-2. The Serb continued his tireless movement and took the set in 44 minutes with a beautiful winner.
The second set saw Federer battling hard and the effort paid off when he broke early in game three. He went on to break once again, roaring come on!, to take the set and force the tie into the decider.
It didn't start well for Federer after he dropped serve at the start. However, he surged back with a break to love for 2-2. However, inconsistency was his Achilles heel as he double faulted allowing Djokovic to go up 3-2. From there on, it was Djokovic all through. He embarked on a run of 11 straight points after which he converted his third double-break point to move within a whisker of the world number two spot. He then held serve and fought off another Federer break point to serve to victory to advance to the final.
It was the Serb's third straight victory over Federer, signifying a shift in the balance of power. However, with a head-to-head tally of 13-9 to Federer, Djokovic believes he has much to do.
Before the three consecutive wins, he had three consecutive wins, so it's changing. But I feel I've been more confident stepping on the court to face him than I have been in the last few years and I'm just happy about it.
I played fantastic in the first set and then lost that break at the start of the second and got him back into the game. I was really fortunate to get the crucial break at 2-2 in the last set.
About the mouth-watering clash with Nadal in the final, he said, There's not much to say about Rafa. He's a big champion, definitely showed his quality today and showed he's in really good form, but I'll step in and try to be aggressive.