Djokovic, Nadal to meet in BNP Paribas Open Semi-Finals By: Blaine Grisak
Updated: March 19, 2016
It was the dream semi-final that everybody wanted, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 48th time, the Serbian leads the had to head 24-23.
In the first quarterfinal, Nadal took on Japanese tennis player, Kei Nishikori. Nishikori, who has been one of the tours best up and coming players over the last two years hoped to break through against Nadal who lead the head to head 7-1.
Nishikori got off to a fast start as he got the early break of serve to go up 3-1, however, as proven by the previous round in which Nadal saved a match point to go on to win, the Spaniard is a fighter.
Nadal went on to win five of the next six games to take the opening set in 45 minutes. He got the early lead in the second set with a 4-2 lead, but allowed Nishikori back in the set with a forehand error. The world number five got the break back and went on to win the second set and the match.
In the second men’s quarterfinal, Djokovic would play long-time rival Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The two players have met 21 times throughout their career, with Djokovic winning 14 of those meetings.
The Frenchmen would hope to pull off the upset against the world number one, but it wasn’t going to be easy. He had his chances, but was not able to capitalize losing both sets convincingly in tiebreakers.
In the first set, Tsonga hit three straight errors to gift Djokovic three points and put him up 6-1. Tsonga would win the next point on his serve, but the world number one closed out the tiebreaker to win the set 7-6(2).
In the final set, Tsonga saved match points on his serve at 5-4 and was able to force yet another tiebreak, however, much like the first, Djokovic dominated to win the match 7-6(2), 7-6(2).
With the victory, Djokovic became the winningest player in men’s tennis history in the open era(with a minimum of 450 wins).
His career record stands at 706 wins, 147 losses giving him a winning percentage of 82.77 per cent. That’s 0.03 per cent better than the next best on the list, Swede Bjorn Borg.Current players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer sit third and fifth on that list respectively.
Djokovic will now play another long-time rival in Nadal. The two last played at the Qatar Open in January in a match in which Djokovic won 6-1, 6-2 in one of the most lopsided matches in their long rivalry.
Nadal is just now starting to look like the dominant player that he was before his injury, but will it be enough against “The Djoker”? It would certainly be a confidence booster if Nadal were to pull off the upset.
On the women’s side, American Serena Williams will return to the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time since 2001. The finals match that year caused a lot of uproar as Venus and her father heard racial slurs and Serena being booed during the match.
This was because in the round before, Venus had pulled out minutes before the semi-final match against Serena and it wasn’t something that the Indian Wells crowd was happy about.
The Williams sisters vowed never to return to the tournament, but it wasn’t until last year that Serena returned, sister Venus returned to the tournament this year.
For the first tome since that 2001 final, Serena will be looking to win the tournament. However, it wouldnt come easy against Aga Radwanska.
Radwanska got off to a fast start against Williams going up 3-0 in the first set. Serena, like Serena does, clawed her way back into the match winning five six of the next seven games to win the first set 6-4.
After it looked like Williams was going to run away with the match winning 11 straight points in the second set and going up 3-0, it was Radwanska who fought her way back.
Trailing 6-5 in the second set, Williams hit a massive forehand to force the set to go into a tiebreaker that she won with another forehand. It didnt come easy, but the world number one came through winning 6-4, 7-6 (1). She will play Victoria Azarenka in the final who advanced in three sets over Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-2.
At 34 years and six months, Williams is the oldest finalist in Indian Wells history, a month older than Martina Navratilova was when she won in 1991.
Today, the men’s semi-finals take place where Canadian Milos Raonic and Belgian David Goffin will kick things off followed by Djokovic and Nadal in their much anticipated match.
Photos By Raymond Rodriguez / Sports Life magazine