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Indian Wells Final Preview: Djokovic vs. Federer

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Djokovic, Federer© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet for the 33rd time overall and 26th on hard courts.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer go head-to-head for the 33rd time in the final of the 39th edition of the BNP Paribas Open. Federer, who at 32 is trying to become the oldest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titlist since Andre Agassi (34) in Cincinnati in 2004, edges their closely contested FedEx ATP Head2Head series 17-15. The Swiss ran out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory when the pair last met in the Dubai semi-finals on 28 February. 

Federer is bidding for an unprecedented fifth title at Indian Wells. The Swiss leads the way in the desert with a tournament-high four titles to his name (2012, ‘06, ‘05, ‘04). Djokovic is seeking a third BNP Paribas Open crown (2008, ‘11). If successful today, the Serb will move second - behind Federer - on the all-time tournament leaderboard, joining Jimmy Connors (1976, ‘81, ‘84), Michael Chang (1992, ‘96, ‘97) and Rafael Nadal (2007, ‘09, ‘13).

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Djokovic will remain at No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings no matter today’s result. Federer, on the other hand, will rise from No. 8 to No. 5 and to No. 4 if he wins the title. The last time Federer ranked in the top 4 was on June 24, 2013 when he came into Wimbledon at No. 3.

This will be the 33rd meeting between Federer and Djokovic, which will tie for sixth in the list of ‘Most Open Era Match-Ups’. The pair has met 32 times in total (17-15 Federer) - 25 times on hard courts (Federer 13-12); six times on clay (Tied 3-3); and once on grass (1-0 Federer). 

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. Going into today’s final, world No. 2 Djokovic is the only top five player remaining.

Novak & Roger: The Rivalry | Tweet #FedNole33 

Federer took sole ownership of third place on the all-time ATP World Tour titles list with his win in Dubai, leapfrogging John McEnroe into third place. The Swiss will be attempting to preserve his coach’s 14th place on the all-time list as Stefan Edberg currently sits tied with Djokovic on 41 titles, and a victory for the Serb would see him overtake the Swede.

The Big Four of Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray have won 32 of 34 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments between them since Monte Carlo in 2010, and the trend is set to continue today with the former two squaring off.

Federer will be looking to close the gap on title leader Nadal today, while Djokovic will be bidding to join Andre Agassi in third place with 17 titles. Here’s a look at all the players to win nine or more ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns.

Rafael Nadal 26
Roger Federer 21
Andre Agassi 17
Novak Djokovic 16
Pete Sampras 11
Andy Murray 9

Federer is looking to become the fourth two-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, joining Marin Cilic (Zagreb, Delray Beach), Rafael Nadal (Doha, Rio de Janeiro) and Stanislas Wawrinka (Chennai, Australian Open). 

Federer will join Cilic in first place on the 2014 match-win leaderboard with a win today. Here’s a look at the season’s early win leaders:

Marin Cilic 20-5
Roger Federer 19-2
Rafael Nadal 17-2
Fabio Fognini 17-5
David Ferrer 17-5

Federer has already equaled his number of Top 10 wins from last year. The 32-year-old went 4-10 against such opposition in 2013 (0-7 vs. Big Four rivals) and is 4-1 this season, posting wins over Top 10 foes No. 2 Djokovic (SF in Dubai), No. 4 Murray (QF in Melbourne), No. 6 Berdych (F in Dubai) and No. 10 Tsonga (R16 in Melbourne). Federer’s four victories vs. the Top 10 is a high on the ATP World Tour this year. Wawrinka and Gulbis are second with three wins apiece while Cilic, Berdych and Monfils all have two.



[2] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [7] Roger Federer (SUI)

FedEx ATP Head2Head: Federer leads 17-15

Federer didn’t face a single BP as he saw off Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the final at Indian Wells for the fifth time. The No. 7 seed’s winning streak now stands at 11 matches. 
• In the QF, the Swiss defeated the in-form Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-1, saving the one BP he faced in the 69-minute encounter. In the 4R, Federer overcame long-time foe Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 24 minutes after posting back-to-back straight set wins over Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5) and Dmitry Tursunov 7-6(7), 7-6(2) in his opening two rounds. 
• Federer has yet to drop a set this week (10-0). This is the second time he comes into the final here without losing a set. In 2005, he won the title winning all 13 sets.
• Federer is playing in Indian Wells for the 14th time (47-9). The former world No. 1 has captured the title here four times: 2004 (d. Henman), 2005 (d. Hewitt), 2006 (d. Blake) and 2012 (d. Isner). He is 4-0 in BNP Paribas Open finals. 
• Federer is looking to make Indian Wells the eighth tournament at which he has won at least five titles: Wimbledon (7), Halle (6), Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (6), Dubai (6), Basel (5), Cincinnati (5) and US Open (5). 
• Federer reached three finals last year, posting a 1-2 mark with his only victory coming in Halle (d. Youzhny in F). His losses came in the final in Basel (l. to Del Potro) and Rome (l. to Nadal).
• Federer is contesting his 116th ATP World Tour final (78-37) and his 35th at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level (21-13). He sits in second-place in the all-time ATP Masters 1000 title list, behind Nadal (26). 
• Federer comes into the final with a 19-2 record on the season, his best start since a 23-2 start two years ago. He is 4-1 vs. top 10 opponents this year, which is the most wins of any players this year. He is 169-93 lifetime against such opposition. 
• Federer clinched his first title of the season and 78th overall in Dubai two weeks ago (d. world No. 2 Djokovic in SF and No. 6 Berdych in F). The Swiss moved clear of John McEnroe (77 titles) into third place on the all-time title list with the win, behind Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94).
• Federer opened his season with a run to the final in Brisbane (l. to Hewitt). At the Australian Open, he defeated No. 10 Tsonga and No. 4 Murray en route to the SF (l. to No. 1 Nadal).
• Federer was the oldest player to finish a season inside the top 10 since Andre Agassi (35) in 2005. He was also the first player since Pete Sampras (1990-2001) to finish in the top 10 for 12 years in a row. His streak of 11 straight years inside the top five came to an end, however. 
Djokovic advanced to his first final of the season and fourth at Indian Wells with a 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-1 victory over John Isner, breaking the American’s serve five times during the two hour and 23-minute match. 
• Djokovic overcame Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-3 in the QF after posting 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, in the 4R. The Serb needed three sets to get past his 3R opponent also, securing a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over Alejandro Gonzalez, who hadn’t won a Tour-level match before this week. In his opening round, the 26-year-old collected the 550th win of his career, seeing off Victor Hanescu 7-6(1), 6-2.
• Djokovic is making his ninth appearance in Indian Wells (35-6). He has contested three finals here, lifting the title twice in 2008 (d. Fish) and 2011 (d. Nadal) after falling in his debut final in 2007 (l. to Nadal). The Serb had fallen in the SF the last two years in a row. 
• Djokovic is contesting his 63rd career final and first since winning the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London last November (d. Nadal). He has a 41-21 career record in finals, including a 16-10 mark in ATP Masters 1000 title matches. 
• Djokovic comes into the match with an 11-2 record this year. The 26-year-old has yet to post a win over a top 10 player this season (0-2). He is 108-72 lifetime against top 10 foes. 
• 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.

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