Djokovic, Federer advance to Indian Wells final
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3 to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday, handing Murray his worst hard-court loss against the world's top-ranked player since 2007.
Djokovic will play for his fourth career title in the desert in today's final against four-time champion Roger Federer, who beat sixth-seeded Milos Raonic 7-5, 6-4 in the other semifinal.
"It's the ultimate final that right now I can have," Djokovic said. "Probably the player that is in the best form."
It will be the 38th career meeting between Djokovic and second-ranked Federer, who has won three of their last four. The Serb beat Federer in a third-set tiebreaker to claim last year's title, and also beat him in three sets in the semifinals here in 2011.
"I feel great going into the finals, and I hope I can keep up this kind of a level," Federer said. "I'm happy I can still hang with him. He's in his absolute prime right now and I enjoy the challenge of him."
Third-seeded Simona Halep plays 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic in the women's final Sunday. Halep advanced by walkover after top-ranked Serena Williams withdrew before their semifinal Friday night with a sprained right knee.
Djokovic and Murray were playing for the first time since he beat Murray in four sets for the Australian Open title in January.
Murray's serve let him down, getting broken four times in losing for the sixth straight time to Djokovic, who connected on 56 percent of his first serves.
"I tried to go for a few more serves today and to try to get a few more free points, but serving 50 percent or just below is not good enough against the best players," Murray said. "I thought I actually hit my second serve better than I did in Australia today, but first serve percentage was too low."
Murray hadn't lost to Djokovic so badly since a 6-1, 6-0 drubbing on hard courts in Miami eight years ago. He had 29 unforced errors and just seven winners Saturday.
"I thought I played solid, with the right intensity from the beginning," Djokovic said. "Good first-serve percentage. Got some free points there in the important moments. Just overall it was a good performance."
Murray had two break points on the Serb's serve trailing 3-1 in the second set. But he couldn't convert, and Djokovic hit a cross-court forehand winner to lead 4-1.
Djokovic had triple match point on his serve when he lost three straight points, including a double fault, before Murray netted a backhand to end the match. Djokovic dropped just one service game in the 1 1/2-hour match.
He reached the semifinals after a walkover when Bernard Tomic withdrew because of a back injury.
Federer needed two minutes more than Djokovic to beat Raonic. He earned the only break of the first set in the 11th game, winning on his third break point when Raonic's backhand missed wide.
Federer served a love game to take the set, 7-5, then broke Raonic on a backhand down the line to open the second set.
Raonic managed just one break point on Federer's serve in the match, but couldn't convert and Federer held for a 3-1 lead in the second set.