Tennis — Indian WellsSaturday, March 15, 2014
Djokovic earns easy win
Beats Benneteau 6-1 6-3 to reach semifinals
Novak Djokovic cruised into the semifinals at Indian Wells yesterday with a straight-sets win over Julien Benneteau. Djokovic hardly raised a sweat as he eased to a 6-1 6-3 victory in their quarterfinal clash in the Californian desert.
INDIAN WELLS, California — Novak Djokovic beat Julien Benneteau 6-1 6-3 in just over an hour to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open yesterday.
Djokovic never faced a break point on his serve against Benneteau, the only unseeded player left in the men’s draw. The Serb held break points on Benneteau’s serve in seven of eight games, and broke him four times during the match played in near 90-degree temperatures.
On the women’s side, top-seeded Li Na played 20th-seeded Flavia Pennetta and No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska took on sixth-seeded Simona Halep in evening semifinals.
Djokovic, a two-time champion at Indian Wells, will play either Ernests Gulbis or John Isner of the US in today’s semifinals, where the Serb has lost the last two years. Four-time winner Roger Federer will meet Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine in the other semi.
Benneteau was playing just his second career quarterfinal in a Masters 1000 event on the ATP Tour, never having reached a semifinal at this level. He committed 32 unforced errors in losing for the sixth straight time to Djokovic.
“It’s a shame at this stage of the competition to play like I did. I should’ve been better,” he said. “It’s difficult when you play Novak, who is serving very well and returning so deep.”
Benneteau staved off three break points to hold for a 2-1 lead in the second set, then used a pair of 126-mph serves to hold for a 3-2 lead. But Djokovic won the final four games, all on errors by Benneteau, to close out the victory.
Benneteau’s last shot of the match was called out in the corner near the baseline, and he challenged the call, leading to an awkward moment at the net between the two players. Once it was confirmed out, they shook hands and walked off.
Djokovic connected on 92 percent of his first serves, fired seven aces and had just 12 unforced errors. He was effective at the net, too, winning six of eight trips there.
Late on Thursday, Roger Federer beat Kevin Anderson 7-5 6-1 in the quarterfinals, continuing his strong play at the tournament where he has yet to drop a set in four matches.
A four-time Indian Wells champion, Federer will play Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semifinals. Dolgopolov beat Milos Raonic 6-3 6-4.
On the women’s side, top-seeded Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 4-6 6-3 in a rematch of their Australian Open final. She next plays Flavia Pennetta, who defeated Sloane Stephens 6-4 5-7 6-4 in Thursday’s other quarterfinal.