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Page last updated at 22:42 GMT, Saturday, 19 March 2011

Djokovic beats Federer to take world number two ranking

Novak Djokovic
Djokovic has dropped just one set so far in the tournament

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in three sets to take the world number two ranking and set up an Indian Wells final against Rafael Nadal.

The 23-year-old Serbian will replace 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer in the rankings after a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals.

Djokovic took his 2011 record to 17-0 and next faces Nadal, after the Spaniard beat Juan Martin del Potro.

Top seed Nadal recovered from a slow start to defeat the Argentine 6-4 6-4.

It was the first time the pair had met since the 2009 US Open semi-final, which Del Potro won before going on to take his first Grand Slam title.

A wrist injury then meant he missed nearly all of 2010, but he has looked back to something approaching his best in recent weeks.

There's not much to say about Rafa - he's a big champion, definitely showed his quality today and showed he's in really good form, but I'll step in and try to be aggressive

Novak Djokovic

He was given a helping hand at the start of Saturday's first semi-final as Nadal made a sluggish start, missing a break point chance in the opening game before dropping serve himself moments later.

The world number one was in trouble at 4-1 down but gathered himself impressively to reel off five straight games as he took the set, with his forehand doing much of the damage.

A single break at 2-2 in the second was enough as Nadal saw out the victory to end a three-match losing streak against Del Potro and close in on a third Indian Wells title.

"I think I did well," said Nadal. "I played a few good games. I think he had a few more mistakes than usual. That's help me a little bit.

"But in general, I think I played my best match in Indian Wells this year by far."

Djokovic has been the man to beat this year and has had the better of Federer in recent encounters, including victories in the US and Australian Open semi-finals and the Dubai final.

The pattern continued in the California desert as Djokovic's movement and relentless pressure from the baseline had Federer repeatedly misfiring, with a forehand into the net giving up the first break at 2-2.

The Serbian scrambled brilliantly to recover from 15-40 in the following game and closed out the set after 44 minutes, with one spectacular winner at the net prompting a huge fist pump.

Federer needed to find some inspiration of his own and it came with a rasping forehand winner down the line, accompanied by a bellow of "Come on!", as he broke in game three of the second set, and the Swiss broke again to take the set and force a third.

I'm not a guy who's disappointed for a long time. Takes me half an hour and I'm alright, or 15 minutes sometimes

Roger Federer

A scintillating match took further twists and turns in the decider as both men were now regularly producing moments of magic, with Federer dropping serve at the start, roaring back with a break to love for 2-2, and then double-faulting to fall behind again at 3-2.

But it was Djokovic who grabbed the initiative, a run of 11 straight points earning him three chances for the double break before a thumping forehand converted the third of those.

Djokovic held his nerve as he saw off another break point to serve out the victory and set up a final between what the rankings will say are now the best two players in the world.

"There's not much to say about Rafa," said Djokovic. "He's a big champion, definitely showed his quality today and showed he's in really good form, but I'll step in and try to be aggressive."

Djokovic has now beaten Federer three times in a row but does not believe he yet dominates their rivalry, with a head-to-head tally of 13-9 in the Swiss player's favour.

"Before the three consecutive wins, he had three consecutive wins, so it's changing," he said, "but I feel I've been more confident stepping on the court to face him than I have been in the last few years and I'm just happy about it."

He added: "I played fantastic in the first set and then lost that break at the start of the second and got him back into the game. I was really fortunate to get the crucial break at 2-2 in the last set."

Federer, who later lost in the doubles final with Stanislas Wawrinka against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse, said of his singles defeat: "I'm not a guy who's disappointed for a long time.

"Takes me half an hour and I'm alright, or 15 minutes sometimes. What is important for me is I know that I gave 100% out there.

"If I feel like the effort I put in there wasn't the best I could, if I could have done so many things differently and I didn't use those, then it would be very frustrating and disappointing. But it's not the case any more for me."

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see also
Semi clash for Djokovic & Federer
19 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Nadal works hard to beat Karlovic
18 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Bartoli battles into semi-finals
17 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Injury forces Clijsters pull-out
16 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Nadal defeats qualifier Sweeting
15 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Federer beats Andreev in opener
14 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Clijsters & Jankovic ease through
11 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Watson and Keothavong knocked out
08 Mar 11 |  Tennis

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