• BNP Paribas Open

Djokovic downs Federer to set up Nadal clash

ESPN staff
March 19, 2011 « Anthony Johnson should move to middleweight - Hardy | Chartbeat test »
Novak Djokovic is unbeaten in 17 matches in 2011 © Getty Images
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Novak Djokovic claimed his third straight victory over Roger Federer to leapfrog his rival as world No. 2 and set up a mouthwatering final with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open.

Djokovic, who will regain the No. 2 ranking on Monday as Federer drops to No. 3, claimed a 6-3 3-6 6-2 victory at Indian Wells to extend his unbeaten streak to 17 matches for 2011.

After a cagey start, Djokovic got the early breakthrough and edged the opening set. The crowd were treated to a spectacle of tennis, and just as it looked as if Djokovic was on top, Federer stepped it up a gear to take the second set.

After an early exchange of breaks in the decider, Federer showed signs of nerves as a double fault handed Djokovic a 3-2 lead and the Serb never looked back as he reeled off three more games to wrap up victory in just over two hours.

He is now just one match away from a third title from as many tournaments this season, and the in-form player will meet the world No. 1 as Nadal remained on course for his first title of 2011 as he booked his place in the final with a 6-4 6-4 win over Juan Martin del Potro.

With the four semi-finalists having every grand slam title in their possession stretching back to the 2005 French Open, it was a repeat of the 2009 US Open semi-final line-up. However, while the 2009 US Open final saw Del Potro beat Federer to claim his first grand slam, Sunday's final at Indian Wells will be a very different billing.

With Del Potro on the comeback from a serious wrist injury, he is still some way off the form that saw him beat both Nadal and Federer at Flushing Meadows 18 months ago.

But it did not stop him giving Nadal a scare as the Argentine flew out of the blocks to storm into a 3-0 lead. However, the former world No. 4, currently ranked at No. 90, could not maintain his challenge as Nadal overcame a nervy start to reel off five straight games to turn around a 4-1 deficit to take the opening set 6-4.

In the end it was a routine victory for the world No. 1, who will bid to reclaim the title he last won in 2009.

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