Del Potro ends Djokovic's run, Nadal beats Berdych
Juan Martin del Potro handed World No.1 Novak Djokovic his first defeat of the year with a 4-6 6-4 6-4 win in their semi-final clash at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 series event. The match itself was a tight affair that swung back and forth with momentum shifting ever so frequently. There was nothing much to separate the two, but it was Del Potro who emerged victorious playing the big points better at the end of a 2 hour and 49 minute contest.
Del Potro, who had beaten World No.3 Andy Murray in the Quarter-finals, looked to continue his good form and kept up with Djokovic in the opening exchanges of the match. The first break of serve came in the 10th game, when Del Potro served to stay in the 1st set. In his previous service game, the Argentine had saved 4 break points to hold, but could not repeat the feat as Djokovic converted on his 2nd Set Point to take the set 6-4. Del Potro took a medical time-out to receive treatment on his foot and play was held up for close to 7 minutes.
When action resumed in Set 2, the crowd witnessed 3 consecutive breaks of serve. Djokovic, serving first, lost his game to love, looking unsettled by the delay. However, Del Potro failed to capitalize on the opportunity allowing the Serb to break right back, but then broke again with a superb backhand winner down the line. Having been broken for a third time in the set, Djokovic trailed 2-5, but rallied to win 11 of the next 15 points, as Del Potro lost his serve once more, to reduce the arrears to one break at 4-5. On the second time of asking, the 7th seed made no mistakes, converting his 3rd set point and leveled the match at a set a piece.
There was more see-saw action to come in the third, as Djokovic raced away to a 3-0 lead with an early break. But, Del Potro refused to go away and came storming back reeling of the next 3 games to level at 3-3. He almost broke Djokovic again in the 7th game when he had 2 more break points at 15-40, but the Serb recovered to hold serve and arrest the Argentine’s momentum. In the 9th game though, Del Potro would threaten again and at 30-40 Djokovic pulled a backhand long for the decisive break of the match. Juan Martin served it out in style, with an ace to wrap it up on his very first match point and end Novak’s 22 match unbeaten run.
Nadal’s comeback continues
In the first semi-final, Rafael Nadal continued to impress on his return to hard-courts with a 6-4 7-5 win over Czech 6th seed Tomas Berdych. Carrying on from his victory against Roger Federer in the previous round, the Spaniard looked to be aggressive from the get go, stepping into the court and taking the ball early as Berdych was forced side to side thanks to Nadal’s ground-strokes.
A single break of serve proved enough in the first set as Nadal took it 6-4. Berdych had opportunities on the Nadal serve at 30-30 a few times, but couldn’t muster a single break point. Nadal was the one doing all the pressing, but Berdych managed to stay with him until the 7th game when the Czech threw in a double fault and 2 forehand errors to quickly go down 0-40. Though he saved the first 2 break points, Rafa converted on the 3rd with a powerful forehand winner down the line.
The second set continued to be close with not much separating the 2 players. Berdych this time grabbed the first break in the 9th game and came out to serve for the set at 5-4. That game though, was the last that he would win as a stubborn Nadal came back to win the next 3 games to take the set 7-5 and book his place in Sunday’s final.
Nadal, a 2-time champion here, was visibly ecstatic after the win, raising his arms and punching the air in delight after having had to endure a tough 8 month layoff away from the game with knee problems.