Second seed Novak Djokovic entered the semi-final stage at the BNP Paribas Open 2014 by brushing aside World no. 65 Julien Benneteau in straight sets. The first one was only equal until 1-1 when the Serb started his five straight games run, clinching a couple of breaks in the process. Novak created even more break point opportunities in the set number two, but could not steal the unseeded Frenchman’s serve before the seventh game. He ended the quarter-final clash on a high note by breaking for the second consecutive time and sealing an emphatic 6-1, 6-3 victory to improve the head-to-head score which now stands at 6-1 in favor of the previous number one. Djokovic smashed 7 aces to Bennetau’s 2 and surrendered just two of his first serve points. He converted four out of fifteen break points he had produced during the clash that lasted one hour and ten minutes.
“I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and it’s what I was looking for,” said Djokovic. “First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point. He made a lot of unforced errors, and obviously I just needed to make him play an extra shot and serve well. I have done everything I wanted.”
Local hero John Isner has also made it to the semi-finals after prevailing over Ernests Gulbis in the encounter that could have gone either way. Both contestants cruised through their service games in the opener until the 20th-seeded Latvian came up with a break and set point at 6-5, but Isner battled his way out of trouble to reach a safe haven of tie-break. The thirteenth game went according to the twelfth seed American’s plans as he grabbed the solitary mini-break to move one set ahead. He was then broken straight away in the set number two which resulted in Gulbis serving to level the terms at 5-4. However, the World no. 22 Riga native again spurned his big chance and the Indian Wells crowd was in for another tense finale. Isner did everything right in the second tie-break as well and broke the tape by converting on the first match point. His 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) triumph was backed by 13 aces and an excellent 74% first-serves-in ratio, whilst Gulbis hit 7 aces, along with conceding the same number of double faults. The highest-ranked US player will make it to his second Indian Wells final after 2012 should he upset Djokovic in their upcoming meeting.
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