Saturday, March 19, 2016

Djokovic continues domination of Nadal

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 (5), 6-2
today in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open
in Indian Wells. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   At least this one was close for a set and a half.
   Novak Djokovic continued his domination of Rafael Nadal today, beating his rival 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   The top-seeded Djokovic saved a set point while serving at 4-5 in the first set and won the last four games of the second set.
   "I work hard to be able to come up with the best game when it's the most needed," Djokovic, who will meet 12th-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada for the title, told reporters. "Obviously, today the first set was decided in one or two points; second set was very close. Midway through the second I broke his serve, and last three games I played very well.
   "So I'm just glad to overcome this challenge that is one of the greatest in sport, as it always is playing against Rafa. I'm taking the positives out of today's performance and hoping that I can finish off this tournament tomorrow with another great performance."
   Djokovic improved to 25-23 against Nadal, a three-time Indian Wells champion who was seeded fourth, in the longest-running rivalry on the ATP World Tour during the Open era.
   However, Djokovic has won the last six meetings, all in straight sets, and 10 of the last 11. Nadal had failed to win more than three games in a set in their previous three matches. The 29-year-old left-hander has slumped since missing the summer of 2014 with a right wrist injury and undergoing an appendectomy that November.
Nadal has lost to Djokovic six straight times
and in 10 of their last 11 matches. 2015 photo
by Paul Bauman 
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Raonic, blasting serves at up to 146 mph, beat 15th-seeded David Goffin, a 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Belgian, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
   Raonic went undefeated in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the last three titles (2011-13).
   Djokovic, seeking his third straight Indian Wells title and record fifth overall, and Raonic will play after Sunday's 11 a.m. women's final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. ESPN will televise both matches.
   Williams and Azarenka have won four of the last six Bank of the West Classic titles at Stanford. Williams triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and Azarenka in 2010.
   Raonic is 0-2 in finals in Masters 1000 tournaments, the highest level after the Grand Slams. Djokovic will attempt to tie Nadal with 27 Masters 1000 titles.
   Djokovic, who has arguably the best return of serve in history, has lost only one set in five career matches against Raonic. In their last meeting, Djokovic won 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Australian Open en route to the title.
   In today's men's doubles final, No. 7 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France topped No. 6 seeds and defending champions Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jack Sock of Lincoln, Neb., 6-3, 7-6 (5).
   Herbert and Mahut, the reigning U.S. Open champions, became the first French team to win the Indian Wells crown since Arnaud Clement and Sebastien Grosjean in 2004.
   Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe, playing in their maiden tournament together, defeated Julia Goerges of Germany and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-4 [10-6] in the first BNP women's doubles final between unseeded teams since 2009.
   Mattek-Sands won her 18th tour-level doubles title, including two Slams, and Vandeweghe her first. Vandeweghe, a former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, lives in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. The Capitals folded after their 28th season in the California capital in 2013. 

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