Novak Djokovic captured his third Indian Wells Masters title in a row, and his third ATP title this season with a 6-2 6-0 pummeling of Milos Raonic. A struggling Raonic, who appeared to be unwell, was playing in his second ATP final of the season and falls to 0-3 in Masters 1000 level finals.
Djokovic had some tough matches in the California desert, but the world #1 remains an unstoppable force when healthy and focused. Djokovic is 22-1 on the season, after wins over Bjorn Fratangelo, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano Lopez, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Rafael Nadal, along with Raonic this week. He looked listless after dropping the first set to Fratangelo, but he clawed back in that match as the young American tightened up, and he won a pair of tiebreaks over Tsonga. Nadal gave him a good runaround as well, but he was unable to match Djokovic’s level on key points.
Raonic is 14-2 this season, and shook off any injury concerns with wins over Inigo Cervantes, Bernard Tomic, Tomas Berdych, Gael Monfils, and David Goffin. Goffin reached his first ever Masters semifinal with close wins over Stan Wawrinka, and Marin Cilic. Both Wawrinka, and Andy Murray were disappointing in the bottom half of the draw as they exited the tournament early on. Murray dropping a shocking contest to Federico Delbonis. Both Djokovic, and Raonic are set to play a big part in the remaining Masters tournaments and Grand Slams this season.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock 6-3 7-6(5), as Canadians went 0-2 in Indian Wells finals today.
Novak Djokovic defended his BNP Paribas Open title with a 6-3 6-7 6-2 win over Roger Federer, a rematch of both the Dubai final, and the 2014 Indian Wells final. With the win, the world number one tied Federer with four career Indian Wells titles. In the final, Djokovic had the upper hand early, and very well could have closed the match out in 2 sets, from a set and a break (4-2) up, but Federer refused to go away quietly, forcing a second set tiebreak and later a third set, as Djokovic threw in a pair of double faults in the tiebreak. As expected, the slower, higher bouncing courts of Indian Wells seem to disadvantage Federer’s preferred attacking style of play, as Djokovic broke early in set 3, and though Federer would pull it back to 2-2, he lost the plot from there as Djokovic slammed the door shut for the final time.
Novak only dropped the one set to Federer all tournament, as he demolished Marcos Baghdatis, slipped past a surprisingly valiant Albert Ramos, who played the best of any opponent against Novak before the final, and gritted past John Isner with a break, and a tiebreak victory to reach the quarterfinals. Djokovic got a walkover in the quarters, as Bernard Tomic saw his great tournament derailed by a host of injuries including a back problem and wisdom teeth pain. The lack of match play didn’t disadvantage Djokovic in the slighest in the semis, as he crushed Andy Murray 6-2 6-3, the Scots serve deserted him in the match.
Federer was also with a blemish on his record before the final, sweeping Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, Andreas Seppi, Jack Sock, and Tomas Berdych, before edging past Milos Raonic with a break of serve in each set against the Manitoba missile. His tennis was fresh, crisp, and aggressively brutal all week, and on top of that, he played excellent defense, but Djokovic is a different caliber of player compared to any other on the tour. It was also a good tournament for Raonic as the Canadian scored his first ever win over Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals with a clutch 3 set win coming back from a set down and improving the whole match.
The successful pairing of Sock and Vasek Pospisil won their second elite caliber doubles title together (Wimbledon 2014 the other), as they beat the equally successful pairing of singles players Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli in a highly anticipated doubles final. It was an incredible week for Sock in his first tournament back from hip surgery, as he reached the round of 16 in singles with a trio of comeback wins from a set down, along with winning the doubles title.
She just wouldn’t stay down, would she? Simona Halep went through the wars with former world number one Jelena Jankovic, but she came up good in the end, coming from behind to claim her biggest title to date.
The World #3 found it difficult in the early goings, as Jankovic came out firing. The Serbian seemed to have engaged 2010 mode, as she raced to a set lead. The backhands of the Serbian were penetrating, and her movement on point as Halep struggled to play herself into the match. The stat of eight winners and 18 unforced errors told the Romanian’s first set story. Unusual stats for the world number three.
The second set was continuing in the same vein, with Jankovic breaking early at 1-1. Halep broke back as she continued to fight, but Jankovic broke again to earn the opportunity to serve for the championship. At this point, the result looked never in doubt. Jankovic was playing well, whilst Halep wasn’t hitting her best form. Despite that, the world number three’s grit and determination shone through as she broke back, and then went on to take the set 7-5. A crushing blow for Jankovic, who was the better player throughout the first two sets.
The third set proceeded to be a mess with both players struggling to hold serve. Jankovic was the first to strike, but the Serb was immediately broken back. Eventually, Halep broke to serve for the match, but like Jankovic in the second set, she failed to take her chance. Fortunately for the Romanian however, she had another opportunity to claim the title, as Jankovic served to stay in the match. The 18th seed hadn’t held serve since the beginning of the set, and she wasn’t about to here. The final game came, and then it went, as Halep’s mental strength and resolve came to the forefront once again. A break to love sealed the match and the title for Simona, as she closed it out 2-6,7-5,6-4 in one of the most dramatic finals in recent memory.
The World No.3 gave the former World No. 1 some major props in her speech at the trophy ceremony.
“First of all I want to congratulate Jelena – you were amazing,” Halep said. “Well done for a great two weeks here. You did a great job, and it was an amazing final. I’m really happy I could win today.”
“This is my biggest title and I’ll never forget it.”
Halep’s previous best was at Premier 5 level in Doha last year and Dubai this year. This was her first Premier Mandatory triumph, and this achievement was capped off by the Romanian jumping to number one in the race rankings, overtaking Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
Halep wasn’t at her best, but the world #3 showed tremendous fighting spirit to overcome an inspired Jankovic. Simona didn’t have the greatest start to the tournament, dropping sets in the second and third rounds to Darila Gavrilova and Vavara Lepchenko. The Romanin’s most impressive performance came against in form Karolina Pliskova, as she dispatched the rising Czech in straight sets. After coming from behind to beat Carla Suarez Navarro in the Quarter Finals, the world number three’s fortune began to look good. Serena Williams’ return to Indian Wells was unfortunately ended at the semi-final stage as the world number one was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.
Jelena Jankovic can be proud of her efforts, but unfortunately despite being the better player throughout, she couldn’t find enough to overcome Halep on this this occasion. The Serb took advantage of the bottom half of the draw falling apart, as Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Genie Bouchard’s tournaments all ended earlier than most expected. Despite the top seeds falling, the road to the final wasn’t easy for Jankovic, as she had to overcome rising stars Madison Keys, and Belinda Bencic before coming from behind to beat an in form Sabine Lisicki. The German shocked everyone by making the semi-finals of an event she had previously struggled hugely in, but her dream run eventually came to an end at the hands of Jelena. Still, she wasn’t expected to even make it this far, so Jankovic can certainly look at this tournament as a confidence booster despite what happened in the final. Her efforts are even more miraculous given she was injured prior to the tournament.
“I was limping three days before the tournament started,” Jankovic said. “I was actually in doubt if I could even play. When I came to these courts, on the first day I hadn’t hit a ball for 10 days. I was hitting, but I was standing. I was not moving.” She added, “But I was hitting the ball so great without any practice. I had a good feeling. I felt so great. I was just so happy to be out there again. But I didn’t think I would make the finals after not preparing.”
The doubles was won by Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. The top seeds overcame second seeded Russian pair, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-3,6-4.