INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.,Â March 20, 2016: Winning 7â€”6 (5), 6â€”2 on his sixth match point on Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final for the third straight year, Novak Djokovic continued his recent mastery of Rafael Nadal on hard courts.
The world’s top-ranked player will try to win a record fifth title in the California desert in a match with Milos Raonic in Sunday’s final. He has won it the last two years.
Winning the last seven times since the Spaniard beat him in the 2013 U.S. Open final, Djokovic extended his advantage over Nadal on hard courts to 18-7. Having won six straight meetings and 10 of the last 11, The Serb also has an edge of 25-23 in the longest running rivalry in the Open era.
Djokovic said, “I managed to stay composed and serve well in important moments and just believed that I can win.”
Nadal, a three-time winner here, came up short in making his 100th career singles final with his second loss to Djokovic this year. The Serb won in the final at Doha in January. Nadal hasnâ€™t won a title on hard courts since 2014 in Doha.
Nadal said, â€œToday was closer than the last couple of times against the best player of world, so was a very positive week for me.â€ Further adding he said, â€œIf I am able to play weeks in a row at this level, then you start to think about the chances to compete for everything.â€
Service breaks were traded by Djokovic and Nadal in the first before Djokovic held to force the tiebreaker.
According to Djokovic he just served well and hung in, in order to make Nadal play an extra shot.
Nadal clearly the crowd favorite in the packed stadium said, “I felt for a moment that I was competing at the highest level possible.” According to him he made a few mistakes with his forehand at the beginning of the tiebreak and at the end of the first set.
Djokovic earned the only break in the sixth game to go up 4-2 and then served a love game for a 5-2 lead. Nadal survived a four-deuce game to tie the second set 1-all and faced three deuces on his serve to hold at 2â€”all.
Fighting back from a triple match point with a big forehand in the corner to get to deuce, Nadal made one last stand on his serve. But his forehand let him down on two subsequent deuce points and Djokovic closed it out on his sixth match point.