Two-time champion Novak Djokovic is through to the quarter-final of the BNP Paribas Open, where he will now meet world No. 65 Julien Benneteau for the seventh time on the ATP World Tour. The Djokovic vs Benneteau Head to Head stands at 5-1 and the Serb will be looking to further that en route to the semi-finals at Indian Wells.
The world No. 2 needed to recover from a slow start to defeat the resurgent Croat Marin Cilic 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to book his place in the quarter-finals. Djokovic broke Cilic twice in the second set and then opened a 3-0 lead in the third, closing out the victory after one hour and 45 minutes. The win also improved his record to 8-0 against Cilic. He will now continue his campaign for a third title at Indian Wells when he meets unseeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau on Friday evening.
“I was composed and mentally calm, regardless of the score line,” said Djokovic. “I just accepted the fact that he came out of the blocks better than I did. He was very aggressive, not missing at all, serving incredibly fast and accurate. I couldn’t do much really. I was forced to back up.
I believed that I could come back. The second set was a whole new story. I reset myself and told myself it was the start of the match. I forgot about the first set and the second and third went really well. It was the intensity I want to have and I hope to keep it up.”
France’s Benneteau beat Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach his first quarter-final of the season. Prior to his strong showing this week at Indian Wells, Benneteau had not gotten past the second round of any tournament he had participated in this season. While he is currently ranked outside the Top 50 in the Emirates ATP Ranking, Benneteau is a experienced veteran who will be looking to trouble Djokovic in their upcoming quarter-final clash.
Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 5-1, having won the last five consecutive matches dating back to the 2007 BNP Paribas Open. Three of his victories came on hard court, while the others were grass and clay respectively. They hold a 1-1 record at Indian Wells but this marks their first encounter in the California Desert in seven years. Much has changed over that period of time, yet the result will likely be the same: a straight sets victory for Djokovic.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets