Indian Wells (California), March 20 (IANS) World No.1 tennis star Novak Djokovic won a hard-fought first set that lasted well over an hour before asserting full control in a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory over Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open.
Djokovic had won the last five matches against Nadal to take a career lead in their head-to-head record for the first time, reports Efe.
But he nearly dropped his first set here on Saturday against the fifth-ranked Spaniard since a four-set loss in the 2014 French Open final, staving off a set point when serving at 4-5 in the first set in what proved to be a crucial juncture of the match.
Nadal managed to stay close in the first set by winning a whopping 72 percent of his second-serve points, but that percentage dipped sharply in the second set (37 percent), leading to two costly service breaks.
Although Nadal made crucial errors in the first set that turned the match decisively in Djokovic’s favour, he will be encouraged that his form in general is much better than in his highly disappointing 2015 season.
Djokovic’s opponent in Sunday’s final of this hard-court event will be the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who overcame a second-set hiccup to defeat Belgium’s David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 earlier on Saturday.
The Serbian ran his career mark against Nadal to 25-23 with Saturday’s victory and will be seeking his 27th Masters title.
The 25-year-old Raonic will be making his third appearance in a Masters final and is seeking his first title.