Roger Federer had held serve in 46 of his 47 service games at the Indian Wells Masters and had faced only three break points in his first five matches, but that was before the world No 2 faced Novak Djokovic.
In the final Djokovic underlined his status as the world’s best player with a superb performance, beating Federer 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 to make a successful defence of his title.
Federer, nevertheless, played his part in a contest of the highest quality. The 33-year-old Swiss, who had lost to Djokovic in the final 12 months earlier, made a spirited comeback to take the second set but was unable to maintain the momentum in the decider. Federer had won in straights sets in his previous meeting with Djokovic in Dubai, but the Serb has now won 18 of his 38 meetings with the Swiss.
Djokovic said afterwards that it had been crucial to remain mentally strong throughout the match. Just as he had done in beating Andy Murray in the semi-finals, Djokovic put his opponent under pressure from the start with the consistent brilliance of his game. Over the last 10 days the 27-year-old has been striking the ball as well as at any stage of his career, with his serve in particularly good order.
Federer, too, had been in top form, but the writing was on the wall when Djokovic broke him to lead 4-2. Djokovic forced a total of five break points in the opening set while Federer had none as his opponent won all 17 points in which his first serve found the target.
When Federer finally put Djokovic’s serve under pressure at the start of the second set the Serb held firm. Returning with his usual brilliance, Djokovic went on to make the first break of the set. Federer, nevertheless, responded in characteristic fashion, finally breaking serve to level at 4-4 as Djokovic netted a forehand on the second break point.
With the crowd overwhelmingly behind Federer, Djokovic was starting to look uneasy. Federer handed him the advantage in the tie-break by hitting a drive volley long to go 3-1 down, but Djokovic went on to hit three double faults to give the Swiss the chance to serve out for the set.
The crowd were ecstatic, but Djokovic composed himself and got off to a flier in the deciding set by breaking in the second game. Federer levelled at 2-2, but Djokovic then made what proved the decisive break to go 4-2 up. When Federer served at 2-5 the Swiss saved a first match point with a service winner but put a forehand wide on the second.
In winning this tournament for the fourth time Djokovic has become the 12th player in the Open era to win 50 titles. It also means that he has now won one more title than his coach, Boris Becker. With 21 Masters Series titles to his name, Djokovic is now just two behind Federer and six behind Rafael Nadal.Reuse content