Federer started off quickly, pushing the 2nd game to deuce and after two break points, broke Djokovic’s serve. In the seventh game, Djokovic challenged Federer to 30-30 but Federer closed the game with two serve winners and a 5-2 lead in the first set. Two more service winners led to an easy hold and a 6-3 first set win.
Federer held for 1-1 in the second set after allowing Djokovic to get back to deuce. Djokovic began to pressure Federer’s serve, move the fifth ranked player back and was holding serve easier. Midway through, it was Djokovic 3-2.
In the sixth game, Federer was again able to extricate himself from 30-30, particularly with a gorgeous inside-out forehand winner on game point to close a great rally. In the eighth game, Djokovic held two break points and when Federer shanked a forehand wide, the number two seed served to even the match at one set apiece.
Two egregious misses by Djokovic gave Federer a 0-30 lead but Federer missed two forehands and the game was even. Novak then whizzed a service winner and at set point, forced a Federer backhand long. The match would now travel to a third set.
At deuce of the first game, Federer hit a forehand winner and then a nice unreturnable forehand put Federer in front 1-0. Down break point in the 3rd game after a wondrous running passing shot and double fault, Federer knocked in an ace. A long rally forcing an error by Federer but he responded with another ace for deuce. Djokovic played great defense to force Federer to attempt an acute angle (forcing another error) and after a great service return, Federer’s forehand went long for a 2-1 lead in the third.
Darren Cahill, tennis analyst, opined, “Novak is keeping Roger away from the net and he’s hitting deeper.” This trend began in the second set and as the games moved on, it was evident that Federer would not be able to win from the baseline.
In the tenth game and Djokovic serving for the match, Federer approached with a quirky forehand slice to force a passing shot error and then hit a crosscourt forehand for 0-40. Djokovic would push a forehand wide on the second break point and suddenly….it was 5-5 in the final set.
Both men held serve easily and this match, to the delight of a sold-out stadium, was headed for a tiebreaker.
Djokovic reverted back to his steady, grinding play – forcing Federer errors on long baseline rallies, playing great defense and keeping the ball deep. On the changeover in the tiebreaker, it was 5-1 Djokovic. Two more errors by Federer gave the tiebreaker 7-3 to Djokovic and the title at Indian Wells
It was the 33rd match between the two rivals as Djokovic closed the lifetime record to 17-16 for Federer. The win was worth $1,000,000 and provided momentum for a slow start in 2014.