(3)Roger Federer d. (2)Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 [1:31 h]
The match was delayed because of rain, although started at 5:30 a.m. the floodlights were activated from the beginning. The sky was cloudy, the wind was strong, Federer was more eager. He took first three games despite Nadal had a two-point advantage in every game. The Spaniard responded winning three straight games too, but Federer extended the 3-game streak by each player to three (served the set to “love” making three different winners)! In the 2nd game of the 2nd set, the players were forced to stop the play for a few minutes due to breezy rain. After that, Federer dominated his opponent totally, he was constantly attacking the ball early, and Nadal couldn’t find his rhythm. The Spaniard was broken twice and it seemed like a beat-down, but he never gives up. Federer was serving at 5:2, but Nadal kept fighting to make the things more interesting with Federer serving at 5:4 (15-30). At 30 all the situation became ridiculous, during a long rally again a few raindrops fell, Nadal missed a forehand and Steve Ulrich halted the match for a few minutes just like in the 2nd game of the set. Federer came back on court to deliver an ace on match point! He advances to the Indian Wells final for the first time in six years, Rafa remains titleless since last year’s French Open!
(11)John Isner d. (1)Novak Djokovic 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-6(5) [2:45 h]
Perhaps it will be remembered as the best 3-set match of the season, albeit the initial phase didn’t indicate it would be possible. Djokovic showed his amazing retrieving skills to win six straight points on Isner’s serve, and led 3:1* (30-0) in the 1st set when the American delivered four service bombs to hang in the set. The Serb was serving at 5:4 (30 all) when Isner attacked the net to finish the point with a calm overhead. Facing a break point, Djokovic made an astonishing mistake, after Isner’s long return he decided to challenge the ball despite responded with a shot which found the way to Isner’s no-man’s land, and the rally would have been continued on equal terms. The hawk-eye signalized the ball was good, and Isner broke back. In the tie-break he led 6:4 & 7:6 before converted his fourth set point. At 4:3 in the 2nd set Djokovic tried as hard as he could to break the American, and he managed to do this on the fourth break point in that game. Since the middle of the 3rd set, the No. 1 in the world was very emotional sensing that winning a decisive tie-break against the local-favorite would be an extremely tough mission to accomplish. He manufactured an opportunity at 3 games apiece – Isner fought off a break point with a huge serve (143 mph) – D’Joke’s racquet only touched the ball by its frame. In the 12th game, Isner jumped to a 30-0 lead. Djokovic won three points in a row, then lost two… match point Isner – Djokovic’s service winner, two points more for him and we have the deciding tie-break, something what Isner loves, but Djokovic is exeptionally good at it as well. Leading 2:0 Isner should have made a crucial blow, but his tentative forehand from a comfortable position, Djokovic blocked with a backhand volley. In the following point he lobbed Isner on the line, Marian Vajda was laughing. An ace by Isner – 3:2. Djokovic’s second serve and Isner furiously plays return forehand from the tram-lines, 4:2 for him during the change of ends. 4:3 a moment later. Isner creates a double match point with a forehand winner followed up by a service winner. Djokovic replies with an ace and a service winner. Isner is such a cool customer tough, hits an ace-wide (his 20th of the day) on fourth match point, and celebrates the biggest achievement of his tennis life with a shy small fist-pump. A few minutes after the last match point the rain came and delayed the second semifinal three and a half hour… This famous victory introduces Isner to the Top 10, thirty other Americans before him achieved this feat in the Open era. “With that serve and with that forehand he’s got the ability to be a Top 10 player,” said Djokovic. “He had that already a couple years back. It’s just a matter of really trusting your instincts and your strokes and your quality. I think it all came together for him now, and he’s deservedly in the Top 10 now.”