Tennis

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Nadal, Djokovic to meet in Indian Wells final

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By BETH HARRIS
The Associated Press
Sunday, March 20, 2011; 12:20 AM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic outlasted Roger Federer 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to stay undefeated this season and reach the BNP Paribas Open final while knocking the Swiss star from the No. 2 spot in the world on Saturday.

Djokovic and Federer will switch spots when the latest rankings are released on Monday, with the Serbian moving up to No. 2 and Federer slipping to third with an 18-3 mark this season. All three of his losses have been against Djokovic, who is 17-0.

"It's the crown for my achievements this year. I think I deserve it," Djokovic said. "I've played the best tennis of my life in the last three months. I have been very dedicated, very professional, and I want to keep on going."

Neither of them had lost a set in reaching the semifinals, although Federer had a tougher time, dropping 29 games in eight sets, while Djokovic had lost just 12 games in eight sets - the fewest games lost in four matches in an ATP Masters 1000 tournament since 1990.

Djokovic will play top-ranked Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final. Nadal rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the first set to beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4, ending a three-match losing streak to him.

Nadal improved to 31-4 all-time at Indian Wells, where he won titles in 2007 and '09.

It was the third time in the tournament's 25 years that the world's top three men reached the semifinals.

On the women's side, top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki plays 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli in Sunday's final.

Sania Mirza of India and Russian Elena Vesnina defeated eighth-seeded Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy 6-0, 7-5 to win the women's doubles title in their third tournament together. The winners will split $237,000.

Federer became just the fourth player to take a set off Djokovic this year when he won the second. Federer lost to him in straight sets in the Australian Open semifinals and in the Dubai final earlier this year.

"My approach to the matches against Roger is maybe different than it was in the past two years. Right now I kind of have more self-belief when I step on the court against him," Djokovic said. "Before it was, `Let's hope that I can play well.'"

Djokovic broke Federer to open the third set, then staved off two break points and hit a forehand winner that kissed the sideline to hold for 2-0.


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