Djokovic Marches Into SFs; Isner Beats Simon
Indian Wells, U.S.A.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic continued his march towards the BNP Paribas Open final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals Thursday afternoon in Indian Wells.
"I had a very powerful ball striker on the opposite side of the net," said Djokovic. "He's very solid from groundstrokes and has a powerful serve, but I knew that he's inconsistent with that, so I just needed to hang in there, which I did."
Almagro fought hard to hold serve in a 20-point game at 3-all of the second set, facing down four break points, but the World No. 1 capitalized on his next opportunity to go up 5-4 and proceeded to serve out the match at love.
Djokovic has now won 10 straight matches at the year’s first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, and is through to the semi-finals for the fourth time. He claimed the title in 2008 and ’11, and was a finalist in ’07.
"It's definitely satisfying to play well," said Djokovic. "This is something that we all want to do, and we all practice very hard each day in order to play as best as we can in the official matches. At this stage of the tournament it was important for me to stay mentally focused from the first to the last point."
World No. 12 Almagro had secured his place in the Indian Wells quarter-finals for the first time courtesy of his first hard-court win over a Top 10 player, beating World No. 7 Tomas Berdych in straight sets.
In the semi-finals, Djokovic will square off against 11th-ranked John Isner, who topped No. 13 seed Gilles Simon 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 to reach his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final four.
"It's pretty satisfying. I don't feel like I played my best. I don't think Gilles did, either," said Isner. "So we're both kind of fighting that the whole match. My coach said it wasn't a Picasso out there, but I found a way to get it done."
After dropping serve to start the match, Isner converted two breaks against the Frenchman to take the first set. Simon countered back to win the second set handily, winning 13 of his 15 first serve points.
From there, each player held serve until the final game of the match, when Simon found himself in a 15/40 hole. Isner clinched the victory on his first match point to advance in just under two hours, securing his second straight over Simon.
Isner is bidding to become the first American male to triumph in the Palm Desert since Andre Agassi lifted the trophy in 2001. The 26 year old is 0-2 against Djokovic, losing both of their encounter in 2010.
"To beat that guy, you have to be on top of your game no matter who you are. The same goes for me," Isner said. "I'm going to have to obviously serve well and take my chances after that. So it's going be one of the toughest matches I'll ever play, because he's No. 1 in the world. I have a day to kind of sit on it. I have doubles tomorrow. But hopefully I'll come out on Saturday and put together a good match and take it to him as best I can."
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