Section: Indian Wells

Indian Wells: Djokovic beats Federer to claim fourth title

Novak Djokovic needed three sets to defeat Roger Federer and win his fourth Indian Wells title for the second year in a row.

“I am at the prime of my career,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to try to use every part of this fact to stay where I am and to fight for as many major titles as possible.”

Djokovic, ranked No.1 in the world, and No.2 Federer met for the 38th time, second-most among rivalries in the Open era. Federer leads the series 20-18 and had won three of their last four meetings going into the final.

But Federer made too many mistakes at crucial times as he went down 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2, piling up 43 unforced errors to 35 for Djokovic. The Serb connected on 63% of his first serves, while Federer’s serve let him down. He double-faulted to trail 4-2 in the third as Djokovic won the last four games of the match.

“I felt huge relief, to be honest,” Djokovic said. “I saw I’m not the only one that is double-faulting under pressure. I got myself in a position to break and then he handed me that break. I thought I deserved it in a way because I really fought hard for it.”

Federer’s serve had carried him earlier in the tournament, when he faced just three break points in his first five matches and he saved two of those.

“I was trying to really focus a lot on my serve because it was very important because he returns so well off the second serve,” Federer said. “He really plays everybody really tough when he returns off the second serve, and I think that’s what also was tough today against him.”

Djokovic also won in three sets last year. He and Federer have combined to win eight of the last 11 titles in the desert, and they became the first two players to reach the final in consecutive years since the tournament began 40 years ago.

“He has been always the ultimate challenge, with [Rafael] Nadal, depending on which surface I get to play,” Djokovic said. “Obviously Nadal on clay is the toughest one to beat, and Roger on the quicker surfaces. But because they have been so dominant over the years and so consistent and so confident on the court, it’s very difficult to get into the mix and start winning titles against them.”

Simona Halep beat Jelena Jankovic 2-6 7-5 6-4 in the women’s final, giving the Romanian the biggest title of her career and a WTA Tour-leading third tournament victory of the year. Djokovic and Halep earned $900,400 (£604,000) each.

On his way to his 50th career ATP Tour title, Djokovic broke Federer once to take the first set. Federer rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second set for a 5-all tie. They traded love service games to get into the tiebreaker, where Djokovic took a 5-3 lead.

Djokovic double-faulted three times, including twice in a row, setting up Federer’s first break point. The Serb’s backhand lob sailed long, allowing Federer to tie the match at a set apiece.

Federer then broke Djokovic for a 2-1 lead in a game that went to deuce five times before Djokovic netted a backhand. Federer was the clear favorite among the crowd of 16,988, although chanting Serbian fans at the top of the stadium made their presence known.

“When I play Roger it’s something that you expect that he has more support because of who he is,” Djokovic said.

Federer held serve for a 2-2 tie before Djokovic won the final four games of the match.

“You miss a couple of shots which you shouldn’t and then maybe I didn’t serve as good as I should have, and then that’s all Novak needs,” Federer said. “Then he doesn’t blink. It’s pretty quick.”

Read more at ESPN

Indian Wells: Watson downs Radwanska to claim biggest win

Heather Watson claimed the biggest win of her career as she beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 6-4 to move into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Watson had never beaten a top-10 player before and had lost to Radwanska at Indian Wells last year but broke the seventh seed five times on her way to victory in an hour and 33 minutes.

Victory in Hobart in January had given Watson the second title of her career and the world No.43 will now take on either Carla Suarez Navarro or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last-16 in California.

The 22-year-old had not won a set against Radwanska in three previous WTA meetings but broke in the first game on her second break point and then held her save to take a 2-0 lead.

Radwanska held and then broke back but Watson was giving her opponent some serious trouble and once again claimed the advantage on a fourth break point.

The rest of the set went with serve but it was Radwanska who was being made to work the harder and Watson closed out with an ace.

Watson needed just one break point to again take the early advantage in the second set and she then held her serve again although Radwanska won the third game to love.

The Pole seemed to have found some rhythm and just as in the first set broke back for 2-2, although she required three break points to do so.

Radwanska was beginning to build up a head of steam now and eased through her next service game before breaking Watson to make it four games in a row.

The match looked to be swinging Radwanska’s way but Watson halted her momentum by getting back on serve and seeing off two break points for an impressive hold to make it 4-4.

The momentum was now back with Watson and she won the next on a second break point before serving out to love to take the match.

“Aga is a fantastic player,” Watson told BT Sport 2. “I’ve played her quite a few times and she’s beaten me pretty comfortably every single time so I knew I was going to have to bring my A-game and play my very best and that’s what I did.

“The crowd definitely helped me today. I absolutely love it here. What’s not to love? For three years I didn’t win a match here and then last year I won a couple and here I’ve won a few more so hopefully I can keep it going.”

Elsewhere, tenth seed Lucie Safarova was beaten 7-6(5) 7-5 by Elina Svitolina in little under two hours on court.

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Tennis: Watson through to second round at Indian Wells

Heather Watson reached the BNP Paribas Open second round at Indian Wells with a nervy win over German Julia Goerges.

Heather Watson secured a nervy 6-4 5-7 6-3 win over Julia Goerges to make it through to the second round at Indian Wells.

Watson served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, before losing five games in a row as Goerges levelled the match.

The German then broke in the decider but Watson rallied to claim victory, setting up a second-round meeting with Camila Giorgi.

It was just British No.1 Watson’s second win since lifting the title in Hobart at the beginning of the year.

“I was definitely a bit nervous today and it showed,” said Watson. “But I found the right way to finish the match.”

Read more at ESPN