Even World number One Rafael Nadal couldn't halt the soon-to-be Word number two man Novak Djokovic as the Serb extended his perfect record of the year to 18-0 to take the BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells.
Djokovic came back from a first set loss to take the title after a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win on Sunday to take the BNP Paribas title. The win was extra-sweet as it was his first win over Nadal in a final in six attempts.
In a tightly-contested first set, Nadal, at 2-2, saw four break points go begging as he looked shaky at critical moments, before finally breaking Djokovic in his fifth time of asking. However, his Serbian opponent hit back immediately with a wonderful backhand-cross court winner followed by a forehand to make it 3-3 but fell behind in a loose game. Nadal managed to serve out and take the set.
If the first set was tightly-contested, the second was even more so. The two traded blows and breaks but it was Djokovic who edged it with two breaks to Nadal's one. The Serb broke to go up 5-3 before fighting off Nadal in a five-deuce game on his serve to take the set and force the game into the decider.
It was then that Nadal's serve let him down as his first first-serve percentage dropped to a miserable 25 percent. It made matters easy for Djokovic as he broke Nadal twice in the first three games of set to take a 4-0 lead. From thereon, there was only one winner and Djokovic served out the match at 40-love to become just the third player to beat Nadal and Federer in the same tournament twice. He last did it in 2007 at Montreal.
It was a great win and as the 23-year-old is playing the best tennis of his career till date, he will be seizing up the world number one spot. In the post-match interview, he said, It definitely says good things. I am playing with a lot of confidence. I'm feeling the ball well on the court. I'm very dedicated. I have a big will to win each match. I want to keep on going and keep on playing good tennis.
I know that the season is very long and I don't want to be too euphoric about the win. I need to celebrate a little bit and then move on.
I want to congratulate Rafa on a great tournament. He had to lose but he has started off the year very well. It's always a pleasure to play you. For me, you are the greatest player ever and a good friend so I wish you good luck. He added.
Nadal responded by saying, You started the season fantastic so all the best for the rest of the season. Well done. I lost today but I lost to one of the greatest.
For the Spaniard, it was another missed opportunity for a trophy since he hasn't won a title since October, 2010. After the game, he shed light on his poor serve.
He said, At the end of the first set, I started to serve really bad, and the second set still in the beginning, even if I won the games because he had more mistakes than usual with the second serve return, I play less aggressive. I was thinking too much about the serve more than the game in that moment, so I stop a little bit the legs. The serve was the difference.