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Rediff.com  » Sports » Indian Wells: Djokovic, Federer steamroll into last four

Indian Wells: Djokovic, Federer steamroll into last four

Last updated on: March 19, 2011 12:39 IST

Serb Novak Djokovic moved relentlessly into the Indian Wells semi-finals on Friday, setting up a mouth-watering clash in the last four with Roger Federer for the Swiss world number two's ranking.

Third-ranked Djokovic and three-times Indian Wells champion Federer will compete on Saturday for a spot in the final of the elite ATP Masters 1000 event, a showdown to savour for the fans at the state-of-the-art California desert venue.

Djokovic extended his perfect record this season to 16-0 with a 6-2, 6-4 quarter-final victory over Frenchman Richard Gasquet while Federer brushed aside his fellow Swiss and doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4.

Although Gasquet broke Djokovic in the second game of each set, the Serb swiftly regained control and capitalised on a rising tally of unforced errors by his pressured opponent to triumph in one hour 35 minutes.

Novak Djokovic"It's been the best period of my tennis career the last three months, winning a Grand Slam, the Davis Cup and playing really well here at Indian Wells," Djokovic said courtside after ousting Gasquet.

"Confidence plays a very important role in the life of a tennis player. That's what it's all about, my game these days.

"I do feel really comfortable on the court and I'm trying to use that confidence because I know that it can easily change. It's a very mental game."

The 23-year-old Serb claimed his second Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in January and his 20th ATP title at last month's Dubai championships. He is on a career-best 18-match win streak dating back to last year's Davis Cup final.

Gasquet, who upset eighth-seeded American Andy Roddick to reach the last eight at Indian Wells, said he continually struggled with Djokovic's return of serve which he rated the best in the men's game.

'INCREDIBLE' RETURNS

"He returns incredible, that's for sure," the 24-year-old Frenchman said. "So to make some (service) points for myself is really difficult. That's why he broke me a lot of times.

"That's a big weapon for me, the serve, and I couldn't (win) points with it. For me, Djokovic has the best return. Compared to Rafa (Nadal) and Roger, he has the best return."

Federer improved his win-loss record this season to 18-3 after a commanding display against Wawrinka, registering his eighth victory over his compatriot in nine meetings.

"I am very happy," the 16-times Grand Slam champion said after the match ended when a Wawrinka backhand service return sailed wide. "It's been a good start to the year.

"There are no secrets out there with Stan and that makes it really difficult playing a good friend like him. I was playing good at times, and so from that side I'm really pleased. I'm excited about the semis."

Federer broke Wawrinka once in each set to book his place in the last four against Djokovic where he said the world number two ranking would have no bearing on his approach.

Tribute to Japan writen on Novak Djokovic's socks"I feel like if you are playing a fellow top-five guy, it doesn't matter what's on the line,' the Swiss master added. "You just want to beat him, and it doesn't matter if it's the finals, semis or rankings involved.

"Honestly it has no impact on my preparation for tomorrow. I know I can beat him, and that's all I care about right now."

Saturday's first semi-final will pit Spanish world number one Rafa Nadal against Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, each of them advancing to the last four on Thursday.

Left-hander Nadal battled past big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 while del Potro advanced when Spaniard Tommy Robredo pulled out before their quarter-final with a strained left abductor muscle.

Photographs: Getty Images

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