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Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Here is our review of the BNP Paribas Open.
Novak Djokovic: He may not have been dominant, but this run to his first title of the year was precisely what Djokovic needed to jump-start his season. Djokovic wobbled in dropping a set to No. 91 Alejandro Gonzalez, getting blasted off the court for a set by Marin Cilic and being broken twice while serving for the match against John Isner. But Djokovic was battle-tested by the time he arrived in the final, as he showed in rebounding in the third-set tiebreaker after failing to serve it out against Roger Federer.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -– No. 2 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 8 Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open for the third time.
The two stars produced a dramatic finish in their 33rd meeting. Federer played clean, aggressive tennis early, breaking in Djokovic’s first service game and pocketing the first set in 31 minutes. Federer didn’t face a break point until the eighth game of the second set.
But the slow-starting Djokovic raised his performance in time to stage a comeback. He finally broke at 4-3 in the second set and earned another one at 1-1 in the final set. The Serb served for the match at 5-4, but Federer broke him easily. Djokovic was able to shake it off and rebounded to play solidly in the decisive tiebreaker.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — No. 21 Flavia Pennetta won the biggest title of her 14-year career on Sunday, defeating an ailing Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the BNP Paribas Open.
Pennetta, who turned 32 last month, won her first Premier Mandatory title. The Italian will rise to No. 12 on Monday, only two spots shy of her career high, set in August 2009 when she became the first woman from her country to crack the top 10. This was her first title since 2010, a string of 76 tournaments, and the 10th of her career.
“After so many years and so much work, this is the moment I’ve always been waiting for,” Pennetta said. “And it’s coming when you don’t expect it, because in the beginning of the week I never expected to be the champion or to be in the final or semifinal.”
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — If you get an opportunity to hit an overhead smash to win a point against Roger Federer, you had better take it. If you don’t, he’ll make you pay.
That’s a lesson Alexandr Dolgopolov learned the hard way in the second set of his 6-3, 6-1 loss to Federer in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on a windy Saturday afternoon.
Dolgopolov got not one but two opportunities to put away Federer at the net with overheads but eased off both — was it the wind or the nerves? — to let Federer back into the point. Federer showed off his speed on the first smash, tracking down the soft shot to throw up a backhand lob, then reversed course to cover the cross-court smash. That’s precisely where Dolgopolov went and Federer responded by zipping a cross-court forehand pass right past him.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — No. 8 Roger Federer and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.
Federer rolled past Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals on Saturday, while Djokovic shook off a rocky finish to the second set to defeat John Isner 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-1. Federer leads Djokovic 17-15 and beat the Serb last month in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — No. 21 Flavia Pennetta won the battle of the veterans at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night, upsetting top seed Li Na 7-6 (5), 6-3 to advance to her first WTA Premier Mandatory final.
The 32-year-old Italian will face No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in Sunday’s final. Radwanska beat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4 in a highly entertaining match.
Pennetta’s win over Li reads ugly on the stat sheet. Li hit nine double faults and 52 unforced errors, and the two combined for 11 service breaks. Early in the match, Li told her husband to leave the stadium after the two had a disagreement during her warm-up; she needed to usher him away to focus.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Novak Djokovic eased past Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-3 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open. He will face John Isner, who is back in the top 10 after beating Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) to make his second semifinal here.
A top-five player has won 12 of the last 13 titles at this Masters 1000 tournament. Djokovic is the sole top-five survivor this year after Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych all were upset and David Ferrer pulled out with injury. Searching for his first title in 2014, Djokovic seems to have found his form back in the desert, where he has won two titles. One eyebrow-raising change this week has been the absence of new coach Boris Becker. Longtime coach Marian Vajda rejoined the team in Indian Wells, and it’s hard not to think that the return to the familiar has helped Djokovic. The focus has been less on his fancy new coach and more on his game.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — “Federinka” is finished at the BNP Paribas Open after Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka lost in the doubles semifinals on Friday.
No. 2 Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares defeated the Swiss stars 6-4, 6-1, halting a run in which Federer and Wawrinka beat the sixth- and fourth-seeded teams in addition to Ernests Gulbis and Milos Raonic.
Federer is still alive in the singles draw. He will meet Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semifinals on Saturday. Federer, ranked No. 8, clinched his return to the top five with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Peya and Soares will face No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan in the final. The twins, who are the defending champions, defeated unseeded Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey 6-7 (4), 6-1, 10-7 in the semifinals on Thursday.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Agnieszka Radwanska is back in the Hot Shot spotlight thanks to a pickup volley winner she hit against Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday.
The No. 3 seed had to rely on her creative instincts to defend a heavy forehand passing shot that dipped quickly and landed at her feet. She somehow managed to get under the ball and still have the touch to feather it back at an extreme angle for the winner to save a break point at 2-4 in the second set.