A rematch of the 2012 BNP Paribas Open semi-final is set to take place on Saturday afternoon as world No. 2 Novak Djokovic and local favourite John Isner meet for a second time in the California Desert. While the Djokovic vs Isner Head to Head stands at 4-2, Isner won their last meeting at this event in a thrilling third set tiebreaker and will be searching for another upset tomorrow afternoon.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic breezed into the semi-finals at Indian Wells with a straight sets victory over unseeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau. The Serb did not face a single break point in the match, needing only 28 minutes to win the first set. While the second set was slightly more competitive, Djokovic found the break in the seventh game to secure the victory shortly after.
“I played John here a few years ago and I remember that match. 7-6 in the third, and also lost to him very close one in Cincinnati last year,” said Djokovic. “He’s definitely not somebody you like to play in the big heat with such serve. It’s very challenging because he doesn’t miss his serve too much, so you have to kind of be able to hold your composure from the first to the last point and be ready to play three tie-breaks.
“But I know that the key against both of these guys, whoever I play against, is return and efficient serving. Trying to just kind of stay tough and not let any concentration lapses, because then they can use it.”
Isner contested a tight match-up against resurgent Latvian Ernests Gulbis, needing two tiebreakers to earn the victory. Gulbis managed a break of serve early in the second set to lead 4-2 but Isner broke back for 5-5 before outperforming Gulbis in the second tiebreaker. It was an impressive victory for Isner and one that set up a rematch against the former world No. 1.
Two years ago, Isner stunned Djokovic in a deciding tie-break in the same round, and will now be looking to replicate his efforts on Saturday afternoon en route to his second BNP Paribas Open final. The Serb was the defending champion at the time and it was Isner’s first trip to an ATP Master 1000 final. While he is capable of another upset, Djokovic far more consistent and is eager to win a big title to make his mark in 2014. He should manage a victory in three sets.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Three Sets