• Indian Wells

Djokovic and Federer return to Indian Wells final

ESPN staff
March 21, 2015
Novak Djokovic now holds a 17-8 head-to-head lead over Andy Murray © AP

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer set up a repeat of last year's BNP Paribas Open final with straight-sets semi-final victories in Indian Wells.

World No.1 Djokovic booked his return with a dominant 6-2 6-3 victory over Andy Murray, while No.2 Federer was clinical in his dismissal of Milos Raonic 7-5 6-4.

It was a masterclass from Djokovic in the day's first semi-final, dismantling the Murray's serve during the 89-minute contest.

Murray held serve just once in an opening set in which he made just 40% of his first deliveries, and just three times overall. Having played some fine tennis to reach the semis, the 27-year-old's insipid display lends further weight to the notion that the Serb holds a psychological sway over him.

"I was a bit concerned how I would adjust to the new conditions," admitted Djokovic, who had only played night matches before Saturday afternoon's semi-final in the California desert.

"Andy made a lot of unforced errors, his first serve percentage was low and he allowed me to be aggressive. I'm sure he knows I'm returning well on the other side."

The world No.1 came into the match with five consecutive victories over Murray and eight wins in their past nine encounters, most recently their Australian Open final showdown.

Murray had lost nine consecutive games as Djokovic ran away with that match and picked up where he left off in Melbourne, breaking in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead.

The rallies were typically relentless as both men scampered along the baseline, but Djokovic was simply better in all departments, dictating play and showing fine touch with drop shots and lobs that kept Murray on the back foot.

After falling a second break behind Murray broke back to stay in the set at 5-2, but fired an off-balance forehand wildly long to hand Djokovic a third break to love and the opening set.

The second set followed the pattern of the first as Murray, still struggling on serve and spraying errors from his forehand, saved a match point while serving at 2-5.

He survived two more in the next game but Djokovic was not to be denied, forcing a backhand error from the Scot to seal victory.

The Serb can draw level with Federer's record haul of four tournament wins should he beat the Swiss in Sunday's final.

A run of five unanswered games near the close of the first set proved decisive against Raonic, who showed few ill effects following his three-hour quarter-final victory against Rafael Nadal.

The Canadian world No.6 stayed with Federer for the first 10 games, ut a loose forehand return handed the four-time former champion break points at 5-5, the Swiss taking the fourth chance before serving out the set in 46 minutes.

The second set began as the first set ended, with Federer breaking once more to open up a 2-0 lead from which he never looked back, securing the win in 86 minutes.

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