PHOTOS: Djokovic fights back to beat Federer, claim Indian Wells crown
Novak Djokovic beat his old rival Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) on Sunday to win a nail-biting BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells and capture his first title of 2014.
The Serbian overcame a shaky start when he dropped his opening service game, then survived a nervous finish when he failed to serve out the match at the first attempt before finally sealing victory in the tiebreaker.
"Today was an incredible match," Djokovic said after being presented with the winner's crystal trophy.
"It was an incredibly difficult match. Roger is playing great and it's always a pleasure playing with him."
The thrilling victory gave Djokovic his third championship in the Californian desert tournament and lifted his career tally to 42 titles.
Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia kisses the trophy after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland to win the Indian Wells final on Sunday
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
'I'm playing great tennis now and I'm really enjoying myself'
It was Federer's first loss in a final at Indian Wells after he had previously won a record four times.
But the 32-year-old showed he was anything but a spent force as he went toe to toe with the best hardcourt player in the world.
"Personally, I'm very happy. I think I'm playing great tennis now and I'm really enjoying myself," Federer said.
"Of course, I would have liked to have more won a few more points at the end but Novak made it tough, so congratulations to him for winning."
Federer reached the final without dropping a set and made a flying start against Djokovic, in their 33rd career meeting. Despite Sunday's loss, Federer leads their head to head record 17-16.
Image: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a backhand volley to Novac Djokovic of Serbia on Sunday
Photographs: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Djokovic made a good start in the second set
Djokovic double-faulted twice in his opening service game as his Swiss opponent snatched the early break and went on to take the first set in 31 minutes.
Djokovic made a much better start to the second set, winning the opening point with an ace right down the middle, then broke Federer's serve in the eighth game to lead 5-3.
He served out the set then broke Federer early in the third and had the chance to serve out the match when he led 5-4.
But with Federer chipping and charging from the baseline, Djokovic cracked.
Roared on by the crowd, Federer tied the set at 6-6 to force a tiebreak, but Djokovic regained his composure to clinch the title after almost two and a quarter hours.
Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Roger Federer of Switzerland on Sunday
Photographs: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images