Djokovic held off No. 7 seed, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 7-6(2) while Nadal stopped No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3 in the earlier semifinal.
Djokovic served for the first set at 5-4, but Tsonga broke serve, but the Serb recovered to win the set in the tiebreak.
“Well, it was definitely very challenging to play in these kind of conditions with Jo that was in form this week,” Djokovic said.
“I thought, you know, being a break up and couple of break points for double break in the first set, you know, I felt playing well, very solid; had the match under control; serving 5-4, 30-Love.
“All of a sudden, not putting a first serve in. He started mixing up with a slice and decided to play a bit different tactically. That got me off a little bit, you know, the balance and the rhythm.
“He started playing better. He started swinging more freely from the forehand corner, especially. Yeah, it was very close.
“But, you know, I take positives out of today’s match, the fact that I have played somebody that was feeling good throughout the week, somebody that serves very, very big and plays very, you know, quick and efficient, precise forehands, you know, that gave me a lot of trouble today to win in straight sets and to win in two tiebreaks, I think it’s gonna help definitely my confidence and, you know, mentally I will take that.”
Djokovic, who earned his 20th win of the year, has only dropped one set during Indian Wells this year and that was to Bjorn Fratangelo.
In an era dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Tsonga was asked to compare them: “They all are really good. I mean, if you have to count Grand Slam, it’s maybe Federer. If you have to count number of title, it’s maybe Federer.
“And then you have two guys who are just amazing. Rafa was the best on clay for 10 years, and Novak, he’s now the actual best player, I think, because he’s No. 1 since a while now. So it’s tough to compare.
“Yeah. Anyway, they will be part of history, and for sure for a long time. Yeah, they’re good players.”
In Nadal’s quarterfinal match, the Spaniard, rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the first set, taking five out of the next six games to close it. Nadal took a break lead in the second set in which his Japanese opponent broke him right back, to make it 4-3 in Nadal’s favor. Nadal won the next two games to seal the match.
“I never thought impossible for Kei playing at this level,” Nadal said. “He’s an amazing player, one of the best players, and he’s able to play at highest level, no?
“He started so quick hitting all the balls very well, very aggressive, and serving great, no?
“Then I think he started to miss some first serves and I was returning very well the second set serve, returning very aggressive. That was so important, I think, in my opinion. The development of the game, no?
“So my return was so important, and at the same time I think I served — my serve was enough good for this match.”
“I think the beginning I was stepping in little more and was hitting using my forehand,” Nishikori said. “My serve was hitting really good serve, first serve, second serve, and maybe he start hitting more deep. I start backing up a little more.
“You know, I think everything changed after, between that first set. Yeah, thought I had couple chances first set and second set, too, but, yeah, some unforced errors. And, yeah, he played good tennis.”
Nadal is set to play Djokovic for a place in the Indian Wells final. He spoke about the potential match-up with the Serb. The last time they played in Doha, Nadal only won three games.
“I think the (Doha) result was so easy. The game was not that easy, no?
“But is obvious that Novak played unbelievable, and when he plays that way, so difficult to stop him. Nothing to say about that match than offer congratulations to him. Tomorrow is another day. He’s a clear favorite because he’s winning all the matches almost every time.
“So I am here to, as I said, enjoy the match of tomorrow, to enjoy the victory of today against a great player. That’s something important for me. Semifinals before the tournament start is a very positive result for me. Tomorrow is an opportunity to play against another top player and enjoy that fact.”
Djokovic talked about the Doha result: “Well, that’s definitely one of the best matches I have played against Rafa. I will try to take a close look at that match and what I have done right.
“But, again, you know, we have to consider the different — completely different conditions. We played in Doha on a bit quicker surface. The balls were not bouncing as high. It was night. It was colder than here.
“Tomorrow is going to be very warm. Ball bounces very high, which he, you know, prefers, because the spin, rotation that he generates with his shots is, you know, really big.
“The court is picking that rotation up here with the bounce. He likes the conditions, actually. We played against each other here several times and always close matches.
“Well, I’m hoping I can deliver my best game tomorrow.”
Djokovic on playing Nadal:
“Well, completely different matchup against most of the players that I play against this week. He’s a great competitor, a great fighter. He’s been getting himself out of trouble a few times this week and showing why he’s one of the best players in the history of the game.
“You know, he never gives up. He always makes you play an extra shot. Always makes you earn the win. You know, I’m going into tomorrow’s match knowing what’s expecting me and I know how to get ready.
“I won the last couple times we played against each other, so maybe that can give me a slight mental advantage coming into the court.”
“But, again, everything is open. It’s semifinals. We both have won multiple times titles here, and hopefully we can come up with some good tennis.”
Nadal goes into his semifinal match against Djokovic with a 23-24 record. The last time Nadal defeated Djokovic was int eh 2014 final of Roland Garros, the French Open.
Djokovic is looking to win a fifth BNP Paribas Open title, while Nadal is looking to get his fourth trophy there.
(March 16, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 5 Rafael Nadal came back from 2-5 down and a match point at 3-5 in third set to take down up-and-coming 18-year-old German No. 58 Alexander Zverev 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
Zverev had a match point at 5-3 in third, but he hit a forehand olley into the net and never recovered from his mistake. The Spaniard lost only two points in his Last two service games to close the match.
“I had match point, so I think I did well there. On match point I sucked, so that was it,” Zverev said.
“I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match. That’s what happened.”
“I think it was a great match. I mean, Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. I mean, he’s known for that. So, you know, I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it.”
“Look, in the last three weeks I lost 7-5 in the third to Berdych; 6-4 in the fifth to Berdych; and 7-5 in the third with match point to Nadal. So I know how tough losses feel right now.
” Look, I mean, I think it was a great match. I mean, Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. I mean, he’s known for that. So, you know, I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it.
“I’m out and he’s in the quarterfinals.”
“Very happy for the victory, obviously,” Nadal said. “I have been fighting during the whole match. First set I had big chance with not a difficult forehand down the line that I missed. So that first set probably will be the key, if I was able to hit that forehand right place, no?
“But after that, I think I played a great second set. But at the beginning, sometimes when win a set that easy is dangerous for the beginning of the next one, no?
“The beginning of the third he played aggressive, and I think I stopped a little bit the rhythm, so I was in trouble, no?
“Was a great victory. You know, it’s obvious that I played against a great player, a player who was serving unbelievable, at the beginning especially. He served well whole match apart from some double faults.
“”But you think when somebody is serving with that speed in the second serve, some double faults are the normal thing, no?
Is a great victory, as I said before. I’m very happy about it. I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations.”
Nadal talked about the adjustments he needed to make against Zverev.
“Well, beginning of the match he was serving over 133 first serves and second serves over 120.
“I was trying to return inside the court, as I did every day, but with the second serve 120 miles with a lot of spin, 124, 123, 120, was impossible, no?
“At the beginning when that happened I was in a little bit of trouble, because I felt like I cannot lose my serve, because if I lose my serve and he was serving that way, is impossible. So I felt a little bit the pressure at the beginning.
“But then I think I returned really well during the whole match, no? First serve. Second serve I decided to go back three, four meters behind the baseline, because from inside he was — he’s young, ready to take the risks, and if the opponent wants to take the risk on the second serve and he’s having success, it’s difficult to make something, no?
“”I decided to go back and tried to put more balls in, and I think worked well. I think I had enough breaks to win the match.
“Negative thing is I lost my serve twice in the third, something that cannot happen, especially after having the break back. But that’s it. No, no, no, the match was tough. I think any player can win, and is true he had a big chance with match point and that volley.
“Sorry for him. I think at the same time, I deserve victory like this after couple of loses with big chances to win, too.”
Belgian’s David Goffin, ranked 18th in the world, stunned third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) to reach the quarterfinals of Inidan Wells on Wednesday. The victory for Goffin ended a 14- match losing streak against top 10 players.
Wawrinka came back from 0-4 down in the second set to 4-4. Goffin served for the match at 5-4, but failed to close and Wawrinka won the next three games to even the match at a set all. In the third set, Goffin against served for the match and could not hold. The match went on to tiebreak. Wawrinka hit a crucial overhead out at 5-5 to give Goffin match point which capitalized on.
There were 13 breaks of serve in the match.
“I was struggling with my serve and it was difficult with the heat,” Goffin said in press. “In the third, it’s tough to fight again with the heat and with the level of Stan. The tiebreaker is like you flip a coin.”
“Well, not too great day, not too great level,” Wawrinka said smiling. “I didn’t have the rhythm yet. Was a match without brain, let’s put it that way.
“Have some tough time to focus, have some tough time to find what I wanted to play and stay calm. Still try to fight. Got lucky to come back twice. Had the chance to finish the tiebreak. I didn’t, and quite simple.”
“I think he got a bit tired and nervous also,” Wawrinka continued. “He start to miss easy shots. Gave me the chance to come back. Can lose quickly, eh?
“Two time I come back. I had the chance in the third set to finish it also at 5-5 to break him again. I didn’t. I didn’t.
“But in general, he deserved to win. You know, it was the time of. Should have finish before.”
Goffin will play No. 10 seed Marin Cilic, who defeated No. 8 Richard Gasquet, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. Another upset saw No. 12 Milos Raonic beat No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-6 (7).
“A match where you sort of say you felt great but you went out there and you tried to put the pieces together, Raonic said.
“I got ahead a few service games. He served well. He got ahead. I served well. That was pretty much only one point that I would sort of have played differently. Maybe just be a little bit sharper in the second serves in the beginning service games.
“Other than that, it was all good.”
Top seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic advanced easily. Williams defeated defending champion Simona Halep 6-4, 6-3.
“It feels really good to get that win,” Williams said. “She obviously has been in good form the past couple years. So, yeah, I feel really good just to get under there and buckle down and to win that.
No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who will move up to No. 2 in the rankings, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 7-6 (3) to reach the semifinals. She’ll face Serena Williams in the semifinals.
Asked about returning to No. 2 in the world, Radwanska said: “It’s always a good feeling to be back in this position. I wasn’t long last time, but I think that was a few years ago. It’s always good to be back in that position. Now it’s difficult to be No. 1.
“There is always opportunity, but it’s not about one or two tournaments. To be No. 1 you really have to play the whole season very good, and obviously catch Serena. But she is also playing very good tennis and she will want to play good and be there at No. 1.
“Well, I will try my best, and now I have the opportunity that I’m definitely not really defending much points till the grass, so, well, that’s definitely my spot that I can do that. We’ll see if I can.”
Williams said of the match-up: “She knows how to play in big stadiums and big matches, big games.
“Obviously she does everything so well, including running, and this is a good surface for her because it’s a slow surface. I think I expect there will be a lot of long rallies.
“Honestly, I will be ready. I really like Aga on and off the court. I think she’s super exciting to watch on the court, and off the court I think she’s really one of the nicest people.
“Regardless, I think it will be a really good matchup. Whoever wins will go into the final.”
Novak Djokovic defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.
“I’m actually glad to have a match like this with not much complications,” Djokovic said.
“I think we both started to play well on our service games, and he was 30-Love on that game when I broke him. Then he missed four first serves. I managed to step in and return very well on those four second serves that I got and just used the opportunity.
“You know, after that I was feeling more comfortable also on the return games even though Feliciano is a very difficult player to play against. He’s left handed and he has a big first serve and he can hit angles, comes to the net, so very strong, physically moves well.
“But I was very solid. I didn’t allow him to come to the net too many times. It was a good performance.”
Kei Nishikori beat John Isner 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) plays Nadal in the quarterfinals.
(March 15, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal had an easy first set but had to save 5 set points it the second set tiebreak to defeat Spanish countryman and doubles partner Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 7-6(9) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Verdasco only won 13 points in the first set, making 14 unforced errors. He made a total of 38 errors in the match.
Verdasco took a 6-3 lead in the second set tiebreak. Nadal saved three set points and saved another two. Nadal won the match on his second match point.
“I lost matches similar to this one in Australia, in Bueno Aires, in Rio de Janeiro, so it’s important winning sets like this for me like the other day in the third, today in the second,” Nadal said in press.
“You know, I have to go through these things, no? I played a great first set, very good quality of tennis, I think. No mistakes. That’s important for me. Serving very well; returning very well.
“Then having some mistakes in the beginning of the second, especially with the serve, then distract my concentration, distract my confidence, and I was suffering at the end of the second set, too, no?
“I know arriving to a tiebreak against a player like Verdasco normally he serve better than me. You know, normally in these kind of match I have more to lose than him, so he’s able to play very aggressive. He has an amazing shots, no? He arrives to the tiebreak and you know you’re in trouble.
“Feel lucky to win the tiebreak, and at the same time I think at the end of the tiebreak I played well with not many mistakes and going for the points.
“So is an important victory for me. Two matches wins here, tough ones. That’s something that stays in my mind and helps.”
The three-time champion of Indian Wells will face -off against Alexander Zverev for a place in the quarterfinals.
Zverev dismissed 16th seed Gilles Simon easily 6-2, 6-2 on Stadium 3 to reach the fourth round. The up-and-coming 18-year-old German is ranked No. 58th.
“Well, I thought I played really well today,” said the German. “I think I was really aggressive. Hit a lot of winners.
“You know, beating someone like Gilles 6-2, 6-2 is something that gives me a lot of confidence for myself. He’s such a great player and such a tough competitor, as well.
“You know, I was really ready for a long, long fight and a long three-set match and that was that quick.
“You know, I’m really happy that I got through so quickly.”
“I think against someone like Gilles you really have to be aggressive even more than against other players, and that’s, I think, what I did and worked out really well,” Zverev added.
“I had a great day today. You know, someone like Gilles, if you don’t hit him off the court he’s gonna be tough to beat. He’s gonna be running and fighting all day.
“So, you know, I knew what I had to do, and I think I did it pretty well.”
Zverev talked about playing Nadal:
“Rafa, he’s one of the greatest in the sport ever winning 14 slams. He’s probably one of greatest fighters ever, so it would be a big honor to play against someone like him.”
Nadal discussed his match-up against the young German: “He’s a clear possible future No. 1. He’s an amazing player. He has all the shots. Very good physical performance. Tall, good serve, first and second, great shots from the baseline, forehand and backhand.
“He has everything to become big star and he’s playing well. He won already matches against Dimitrov, against Simon today. So I don’t know the other matches he won. Against who? Dodig? So three very good matches, no?
“Going to be a very tough match tomorrow for me, and I have to be ready to fight, to suffer, and to try to play aggressive. That’s what I gonna try, no? Try to put a high rhythm and let’s see. I know going to be a very tough match. I happy the way I played today the first set, so if I can keep going the same way tomorrow, I hope to have my chances.”
No. 5 seed Kei Nishkori battled past 30th seed Steve Johnson 7-6(6), 7-6(5) to reach the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.
Steve Johnson led 6-2 in the first set tiebreak, before something got into his eye and whatever it was he could not get it out. He proceeded to lose the next six points to lose the set.
Nishikori will take on John Isner next. Isner defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(3). Nishikori talked about the match-up against the hard-serving American: “The key will be on the return. My return, it’s going to be the key, for sure. I have to return well.
“I couldn’t really step in today, so I tried to play more aggressive tomorrow, and, you know, try to be patient. He’s a big guy and I think I have more advantage on my groundstrokes, so try to use more forehands and play more aggressive.”
During his match Isner hit 15 aces and did not lose any first serve points.
Isner on playng Nishikori: “Prior to last year I had never played him, which was pretty odd, because we have been in the same tournaments for a very long time.
“Now it seems like that’s starting to correct itself a little bit. This is the third time I’m going to play him in about a year.
“In the Miami match I played an excellent match, one of the best matches I have played all year, hands down. Maybe “the” best match I played all year. Against him in Miami was a very good day for me.
“In the Washington final I thought both of us played pretty well. He was obviously better than me. He won it in three sets. We have been pretty evenly matched in our first two contests. We have a rubber match coming up tomorrow. It will be fun.
“This is the third time, all on hard courts, in America, so it’s a good situation for me. But at the same time, going up against someone as at Kei’s level and stature, I will need to play very well to win. He he’s a fantastic player and he’s been doing it for a very long time.”
Feliciano Lopez, the 18th seed defeated Spanish countryman and 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 6-7(10), 6-4 in three hours and 15 minutes to reach the fourth round.
(February 14, 2016) Kei Nishikori captured his fourth straight Memphis Open title on Sunday beating 18-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4. The man from Japan now joins Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors as the only four-time winners of the event. In addition, Nishikori joins Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in winning a single tournament four times.
“It’s amazing to win four in a row,” Nishikori said. “I tried not to think about it too much this week. I didn’t feel a lot of pressure. It was a tough start again today, but I managed it better. I played better tennis as the match went on and I’m happier with the second set. I only gave him a few points on my serve in the last few games.
“We practiced five or six times the past few years in California, so I know how he plays. I never beat him before, so I was happy to beat him in a match. I tried different tactics to make him move more. He has very good reach so it’s not easy to hit winners, especially on these slow courts. I had to finish the points strong with my legs. He was tough to play.
“I felt a lot of support even here in the US against an American. A lot of Japanese came out today.”
“I definitely didn’t expect to get to a (ATP World Tour) final so quickly,” Fritz said. “It’s a great accomplishment to get here despite losing in the final. I had a great week and I have to be happy with the result. I have a lot of confidence moving forward. I need to get my body stronger and I can continue to play at this level.
“He started off a little tentative and was leaving some balls for me to step in and hit. He was making some mistakes, but he loosened up and started playing much better. After a couple games, the balls get heavier and are tough to put away. Kei’s such a fast player and incredible from the baseline and when I don’t have that to put the ball away, he got extremely tough.”
This is Nishikori’s 11th ATP World Tour title.
For the young American Fritz, it was a career week playing in just his third ATP tour-level event. The teenager will move into the top 100 after becoming just the fifth 18-year-old American to reach an ATP World Tour final in the past 30 years joining Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Andy Roddick, and Pete Sampras.