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Djokovic Beats Benneteau To Reach Indian Wells SFs

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is chasing a third BNP Paribas Open title.

Eight years ago, an 18-year-old Novak Djokovic made his BNP Paribas Open debut against Julien Benneteau and lost in the first round.

On Friday, the World No. 2 defeated the unseeded Frenchman for a sixth straight time since their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. He raced to a 6-1, 6-3 win to reach the semi-finals for a fourth straight year at the season’s first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

"I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and it's what I was looking for," he said. "First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point. He made a lot of unforced errors, and obviously I just needed to make him play an extra shot and serve well. I have done everything I wanted." 

Djokovic took just 28 minutes to win the first set, but encountered resistance from Benneteau in the second. The Frenchman fought off Djokovic’s first seven chances to break, before finally double-faulting on triple break point in the seventh game.

Djokovic did not face a break point on serve during the 68-minute match and won 92 per cent of his first serve points.

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The Serbian also defeated Benneteau on his second visit to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2007, conceding just four games to win their Round of 16 clash. He went on to reach the final, and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal. Since then, Djokovic has added two BNP Paribas Open titles to his collection, triumphing in 2008 (d. Fish) and 2011 (d. Nadal).

He will look to reach the final for a fourth time when he takes on 12th-seeded American John Isner, who defeated 20th-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-6(4), 7-6(3) in the following quarter-final. Djokovic lost to Isner two years ago in the Indian Wells semi-finals.

"I played John here a few years ago and I remember that match. 7-6 in the third, and also lost to him very close one in Cincinnati last year," said Djokovic. "He's definitely not somebody you like to play in the big heat with such serve. It's very challenging because he doesn't miss his serve too much, so you have to kind of be able to hold your composure from the first to the last point and be ready to play three tie-breaks.

"But I know that the key against both of these guys, whoever I play against, is return and efficient serving.  Trying to just kind of stay tough and not let any concentration lapses, because then they can use it."

The 32-year-old Benneteau was contesting his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final, and had recorded a Top 10 win over fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

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