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Djokovic Avenges Loss To Isner, Faces Federer Next

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Djokovic © Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic advances to the Indian Wells final for a fourth time.

John Isner edged Novak Djokovic in a third set tie-break two years ago at the BNP Paribas Open to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. On Saturday, he gave the Serbian another scare with a final meeting against Roger Federer once again on the line.

The top American fought back to force a third set in front of the partisan crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, after preventing the World No. 2 from serving out their semi-final match at 4-5 and 5-6 in the second set. He improved to 5-0 in tie-breaks this tournament, punctuating the set with an ace - his eighth of the match.

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Isner was unable to sustain the momentum in the third set. After losing serve just twice in 48 service games entering the semi-final match, the No. 12 seed was broken for a fourth time Saturday as he double-faulted to give Djokovic the break, 3-1. Djokovic broke one more time before serving out the 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-1 victory at the third time of asking.

"I thought I returned really well today and allowed myself to have a bunch of opportunities on his service games," said Djokovic. "Then twice I had chance to finish it out and I played two bad games and he played an incredible tiebreaker. And when you get to the tiebreaker with John Isner, whoever you are, you're not a favourite (smiling). I just tried to hang in there, stay mentally tough when I lost the second set, and played a great third."

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Djokovic will next face Federer for a 33rd time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The Serbian trails 15-17, including a loss two weeks ago in the Dubai semi-finals, but won their one previous meeting in the Coachella Valley three years ago. He defeated the Swiss in the semi-finals before going on to win his second Indian Wells crown.

Federer, who defeated Isner in 2012 to claim his fourth BNP Paribas Open title, advanced earlier Saturday with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.

"He played great in Dubai," said Djokovic. "We had a tough, interesting match in semi-finals. Whenever we play each other it's always a huge challenge for both of us, and very few points can decide the winner. I do not expect anything less tomorrow. I just hope for myself that I will be able to perform on a high level, because I'm going to need to do that in order to get a chance to win against him."

Djokovic, a winner of 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, will be contesting his fourth Indian Wells final and has a 1-2 mark. In addition to his 2011 triumph (d. Nadal), he was a finalist in 2007 (l. to Nadal) and champion in 2008 (d. Fish).

Isner will break back into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since September 2012 following his semi-final run in Indian Wells.

"I had some chances... But he came up with the goods," said Isner. "He deserved to win today. Overall it's something to build on, it really is. It was a good tournament for me. Would love to be in the finals tomorrow. I am disappointed, but at the same time, I had a good week here."

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