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Djokovic, Isner In QF Action

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic faces Julien Benneteau for a spot in the semi-finals.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic headlines the action on Day 9 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as the remaining quarter-final match-ups take to Stadium 1. The Serb, who is contesting his seventh BNP Paribas Open quarter-final, opens proceedings against the only unseeded player left in the draw, Julien Benneteau. The pair has met six times with Djokovic leading their FedEx Head2Head series 5-1, winning their last five outings in a row. 

The other quarter-final sees 2012 finalist John Isner take on the No. 20 seed Ernests Gulbis. This will be the fourth time the pair has clashed on the ATP World Tour with the Latvian edging their tight rivalry 2-1. It was Isner who won their only previous meeting on hard courts, however, running out a 7-6(4), 7-6(2) winner in Valencia last year.

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Isner is projected to return to the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings if he can get the better of Gulbis today. The American reached a career-high No. 9 on April 16, 2012 but has not returned to the Top 10 since dropping out on September 24 of that year. 

In 12 of the past 13 years, a top five player has emerged victorious at the BNP Paribas Open with 2010 champion Ivan Ljubicic the only exception. This year, world No. 2 Djokovic is the only top five player left in the draw. The Serb is bidding for a third Indian Wells title, having lifted the crown in 2008 and 2011. If successful this week, he will move second - behind Federer (2012, ‘06, ‘05, ‘04) - on the all-time tournament leaderboard, joining Jimmy Connors (1976, ‘81, ‘84), Michael Chang (1992, ‘96, ‘97) and Rafael Nadal (2007, ‘09, ‘13) on three titles.

Benneteau will contest just his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final today as he looks to reach a maiden semi-final at this level. The Frenchman’s only previous outing at this stage came at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati in 2009 when he reached the final eight as a qualifier before falling to then world No. 2 Andy Murray.  

The 6’10” Isner features prominently in the main serving statistics this week. The top American, who led the ATP in aces last year (979), is first in service games won, holding 35 times in 36 games. He failed to save the only break  point he has faced this week against Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round. Isner also sits top in second serve points won (69%), while he’s second in aces (38) and fourth in first serve points won (82%). 



Julien Benneteau (FRA) vs [2] Novak Djokovic (SRB)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Djokovic leads 5-1

2006 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells Hard R128 Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-4
2007 ATP Masters Series Indian Wells Hard R16 Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-1
2007 ATP Masters Series Hamburg Clay R32 Novak Djokovic 7-6(5) 6-3
2009 Wimbledon (Great Britain) Grass R128 Novak Djokovic 6-7(8) 7-6(1) 6-2 6-4
2010 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada Hard R32 Novak Djokovic 7-5 7-5
2012 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R32 Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-2 6-2

Benneteau will contest the QF at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time after edging past Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-6(4), firing down 13 aces and winning 87% of points behind his first serve. The Frenchman got the better of Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem 7-6(4), 6-3 in the 4R; he upset No. 9 seed Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 in the 3R; and defeated Spanish qualifier Daniel Munoz-De La Nava 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in his opening match. 
• Benneteau is making his 10th appearance at Indian Wells (10-9). The 32-year-old had fallen in his opening match in five of his last six outings. His previous best showing came in 2007 when he reached the 4R (d. No. 6 Blake, l. to Djokovic).
• Benneteau failed to go beyond the 2R in his six previous ATP World Tour outings this year. The Frenchman fell in the 1R in Brisbane (l. to Matosevic), Montpellier (l. to Davydenko) and Rotterdam (l. to Janowicz). 
• Benneteau ended last season at No. 35 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, his joint-highest finish to a season. He also finished No. 35 in 2012.
• Benneteau has dropped 30 places in the rankings to No. 65 since the end of 2013. 
• Benneteau has played in 234 ATP World Tour tournaments but has never lifted a title. The 32-year-old’s nine final appearances without a title is a record among active players. In Kuala Lumpur last year he lost to Joao Sousa in the final after having a championship point. 
• Benneteau is contesting the QF of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for just the second time. His only previous run to the final eight at this level came in Cincinnati in 2009 when he reached the QF as a qualifier before falling to then world No. 2 Andy Murray
Djokovic booked his place in a seventh BNP Paribas QF with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over the in-form Marin Cilic, who was the first player to hit 20 wins this season. The Serb needed three sets to get past his 4R opponent also, posting a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over Alejandro Gonzalez, who hadn’t won a Tour-level match before this week. The No. 2 seed collected the 550th win of his career in his opening round, seeing off Victor Hanescu 7-6(1), 6-2.
• Djokovic is making his ninth appearance in Indian Wells (33-6). He has lifted the title here twice, in 2008 (d. Fish) and 2011 (d. Nadal). The Serb has fallen in the SF the last two years in a row. 
• Djokovic’s two previous competitive outings this year came at the Australian Open where he reached the QF (l. to eventual champ Wawrinka) and in Dubai where he advanced to the SF (l. to Federer).
• Djokovic finished 2013 in the top three for the seventh year in a row, winning seven titles in nine finals (2nd-most in career). He ended the year on a 24-match winning streak. 
• Djokovic reached three Grand Slam finals for the third year in a row in 2013, highlighted by winning his sixth major at the Australian Open
• On June 1 last year, Djokovic became the 40th player in ATP World Tour history to record 500 match wins after he defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the 3R at Roland Garros. 
• The world No. 2 has spent 101 weeks during his career at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. 
• Djokovic has contested six BNP Paribas Open QFs, posting a 5-1 record at this stage. 
• Djokovic reached seven ATP World Tour Masters 1000 QFs last year (5-2). He has now reached the final eight at six 1000-level events in a row.  

[12] John Isner (USA) vs [20] Ernests Gulbis (LAT)

FedEx Head 2 Head: Gulbis leads 2-1

2008 Wimbledon (Great Britain) Grass R128 Ernests Gulbis 7-5 7-5 6-7(3) 7-6(6)
2013 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay R64 Ernests Gulbis 4-6 6-2 6-3
2013 Valencia (Spain) Hard R32 John Isner 7-6(4) 7-6(2)

Isner advanced to the Indian Wells QF for the second time, firing down 10 aces en route to a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 30 seed Fernando Verdasco. The American No. 1 didn’t face a single BP as he defeated Yen Hsun-Lu 6-4, 6-3 to the 3R. In his opening match, the American posted a 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Nikolay Davydenko, winning 35 of 37 points (94%) on his first serve. 
• Isner leads the way in service games won this week with 35 from 36 (97%). The only break against his serve came in the QF against Verdasco, who converted on his only BP opportunity.  
• Isner is making his seventh appearance at Indian Wells (15-6). The American reached the final here in 2012, defeating No. 1 Djokovic in the SF before falling to No. 3 Federer in the final. 
• Isner opened the season with his eighth career ATP World Tour title in Auckland (d. Lu) before retiring in the 1R at the Australian Open (vs. Klizan) due to an ankle injury, which he first sustained in the Hopman Cup in Perth. He recovered from injury to reach the SF at Delray Beach (l. to Cilic). 
• Isner finished 2013 as the top ranked American for the second year in succession, equaling his year-end best ranking of No. 14. 
• Isner has won more than 35 matches and finished in the top 20 in the past four seasons. 
• Isner captured two titles in 2013 in Houston and Atlanta. The 6’10’’ American’s victory in Houston marked his first Tour title on clay and his 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-6(2) (no breaks) win over 6’8’’ Anderson in Atlanta was the tallest title game in ATP World Tour history. Overall, he was 2-2 in finals in 2013.
• Isner played in and won the most TBs (38-18) last year. 
• Isner is 4-0 in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 QFs. 
Gulbis advanced to his fifth QF of the season (2-2) and first at the BNP Paribas Open with a 7-6(0), 4-6, 6-2 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in two hours and 25 minutes. In the 3R, the No. 20 seed got the better of Grigor Dimitrov for the second time this year, defeating the Bulgarian 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. In his opening match, the Latvian won 100% of points (25/25) on first serve and didn’t face a single BP as he dispatched of Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-3. 
• Gulbis is making his seventh successive appearance at Indian Wells. His previous best showing came as a qualifier last year when he reached the 4R (d. No. 9 Tipsarevic in 2R, l. to Nadal in 4R).
• Gulbis moved to a career-high No. 18 in the Emirates ATP Rankings last month after winning the title in Marseille. He posted back-to-back top 10 wins over No. 9 Richard Gasquet in the SF and No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final, improving his record to 5-0 in title games.
• Gulbis opened his season with a QF showing in Doha (l. to Nadal). At the ATP World Tour 500 event in Rotterdam, he defeated Dimitrov and world No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro en route to the SF (l. to Berdych).
• The Latvian finished 2013 in the top 30 for the first time since 2010, jumping 115 spots from the previous year. He equaled his year-end best ranking (No. 24) and won a personal-best 37 matches. 
• Gulbis won two titles in 2013 – Delray Beach and St. Petersburg. His win in Delray Beach marked the first time a qualifier captured an ATP title since Jarkko Nieminen won Sydney in 2012. 
• Gulbis is contesting his fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 QF. He is 1-3 at this stage with his only run to a SF coming in Rome in 2010 (l. to Nadal). 

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BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells

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