Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the Indian Wells Final to win his 17th Masters title, third only to Nadal and Federer. Some would say this was a result against the run of form, and the Swiss legend would be the first to admit it.
Federer entered the final on an 11 match winning streak. He had beaten the Serb only a week back in Dubai, and had toiled his way through the draw here, reaching the final of the first ATP Masters event of the season. Nadal and Murray fell early, which automatically made Federer favorite on current form, but one can never count out Djokovic- especially when he’s hurting and winless.
Djokovic went on to exact revenge for Dubai, winning his first tournament of the year. It had been a disappointing season for the Serb uptil now, and he was far from his best all tournament, but he somehow managed to clinch the important points, winning a nail-biter of a final set tiebreak after losing the first set. This may seem like a crucial blow to Federer, who was looking for his first ATP Masters title since Cincinnati 2012. He looked primed for it, especially after sweeping past the Serb in the first set. As we have seen over the years, the player that wins the first set often goes on to lose the next two. This happened again, and Federer blew a few chances during the 7th game of the second set after letting Djokovic off the hook in a deuce service game. The Serb improved as the match progressed, and soon he was unbreakable. Federer would have wanted this title badly; he is a 4-time Champion at Indian Wells, and now Djokovic joins him as a 4-time Champion here.
The good news is that Roger Federer is back in the top 5. A win here would have taken him to no. 4 behind countryman Wawrinka, but that was not to be. He travels to the East Coast overnight to play in the second Masters event of the year at Miami. He has another opportunity for a few more top-10 victories, after defeating the likes of Haas, Dolgopolov, Anderson on his way to the final.
This is Federer’s final chance before the clay court season begins, and before Nadal and Djokovic begin a 5-week long domination over the tour. Federer is defending a final at Rome too, so his season won’t be getting any easier. His form is encouraging, and a top-3 position doesn’t look too far away.