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Djokovic, Nadal set semi-final showdown

Djokovic, Nadal set  semi-final showdown

INDIAN WELLS: Novak Djokovic dominated both tie-breakers to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2) at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday, setting up a mouthwatering semi-final against Rafael Nadal featuring two players who own a combined seven titles in the California desert.

Fourth seed Nadal, a three-times champion at Indian Wells, survived a few anxious moments before booking his place in the semis with a see-sawing 6-4, 6-3 victory over Japanese Kei Nishikori.

Djokovic, the world number one and defending champion, crushed Nadal 6-1, 6-2 to win the Qatar Open in January in one of the most lopsided matches in their long rivalry, which Djokovic leads 24-23.




“It is going to be a game of cat and mouse,” Djokovic said. “I enjoy the rivalry against Rafa. It is probably the most exciting rivalry I have had in my career.”

The second semi-final will be contested by Belgian David Goffin and big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who won their matches in the last eight on Thursday to advance.

SERENA BATTLES PAST RADWANSKA

Serena Williams rallied after squandering a 3-0 lead in the second set to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) and reach the women’s final for the first time since 2001, when she won and then boycotted the event for 14 years until returning last year.

“After the last final I had here, I never pictured myself being back,” she said, “so it’s an interesting feeling.”

Serena turned on the heat against Radwanska late in the second set, winning 11 of the final 12 points of the match to book her spot in Sunday’s final.

The world number one advances to face 2012 Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka who defeated Czech Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7-1), 1-6, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

Despite service troubles, including five double faults in the opening set, and a poor second set, Azarenka found her way past the 18th seed to give herself a chance at a second title of the year and a return to the world’s top 10.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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