World No. 2 Novak Djokovic fought from behind to win his third title at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday, defeating Roger Federer in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
ESPN Tennis on Twitter announced the result:
Novak Djokovic clinches the win over Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6. What a match!— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) March 16, 2014
The win marks Djokovic's first title of 2014 and snaps Federer's 11-match winning streak.
The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg points out how just how close Sunday's match was:
Rarely see this--both men even on winners/unforced errors. Djokovic 28/28, Federer 34/34. Little between them today. #BNPPO14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 16, 2014
A four-time champion at Indian Wells, Federer came out fast and furious, smoking forehands and answering everything Djokovic threw at him.
But Djokovic was well aware of the threat Federer posed ahead of Sunday's final, per Sports Illustrated's Courtney Nguyen:
He didn’t have a great 2013 by his standards. This year he’s playing like he played for most of his career, and on a very high level. He played great in Dubai. We had a tough, interesting match in the semifinals. Whenever we play each other, it’s always a huge challenge for both of us, and very few points can decide the winner.
After opening up the set with an easy service hold, Federer broke Djokovic before pulling ahead 3-0 just minutes into the match. The Serb would recover in his second service game, finally getting on the board, but it was too late as Federer didn't surrender a single break-point chance to Djokovic in the first set, per tennis analyst Brad Gilbert on Twitter:
Fedfan hitting his bachand so much better with the new stick not miss hitting nearly as match as last few years— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) March 16, 2014
The Swiss maestro closed out the opening frame 6-3 to push Djokovic to the brink:
Fedfan has not lost a match when winning the 1st set 17-0 this year— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) March 16, 2014
Sensing that time was running out, Djokovic turned up the intensity in the second set, breaking Federer after the all-important seventh game to go ahead 5-3. He would serve out the set to force a deciding set.
Djokovic would earn an early break in the third set to quickly pull ahead but Federer would remain patient. Trailing 5-4 with Djokovic serving, he locked in and earned the crucial break to extend the match. Federer was aided by some untimely mishaps from Djokovic, per Gilbert:
Wow the fearhand of Djoker got very tight and gifts Fedfan the break back— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) March 16, 2014
After falling behind 6-5, Djokovic recovered with an easy service game to force a tiebreak.
Despite squandering an opportunity to serve out the match just moments earlier, Djokovic was calm and under control in the extra session, winning the first three points to put Federer under immense pressure.
Fed narrowed the gap but ultimately come up short as Djokovic secured the tiebreak at 7-3 to lock up the match and the title.
Although Federer will be disappointed to come so close and lose, he has to be happy with his deep run and how his body responded match after match. It goes without saying that he'll continue to be a threat to the world's elite men's players moving forward in 2014.
On the other hand, the result will certainly boost Djokovic's confidence as he gears up for the season's second Masters 1000 event in Miami. After being shut out at the Australian Open and in Dubai earlier this year, the world No. 2 is back to playing superb hard-court tennis.
Now, Djokovic will look to add a few more titles to his name ahead of the French Open, the season's second Slam and the only one currently missing from his trophy case.
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