Djokovic rallies for Federer win
11:53pm Sunday 16th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Novak Djokovic is a title winner again after fighting his way past Roger Federer to clinch victory at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The Serbian's start to the season offered plenty of cause for concern and another painful defeat looked on the cards when, having fought back from a set down, he failed to serve it out.
But Djokovic was much the stronger in the tie-break and triumphed 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7/3) to bring Federer's 11-match winning run to an end.
The victory brought Djokovic his third title at Indian Wells and closed the gap in his head-to-head record against Federer to 16-17.
The world number two ended his on-court interview after beating John Isner in the semi-finals by declaring there was no favourite for the match, but the form guide disagreed.
Federer beat Djokovic in Dubai two weeks ago and had not dropped a set all tournament while the Serbian had continued to look lacking in confidence after his worst start to a year since 2006.
And things did not get any better at the start here as the world number two served two double faults in a lengthy second game and was then broken when he just missed with a backhand.
There has been a lack of fluency about Djokovic's game, while Federer again looks completely sure of himself on the court.
Whenever Djokovic had the slightest sniff of a chance, Federer came up with big serves to take it away, and he wrapped up the opening set in just over half an hour.
Neither man had their celebrity coach with them, Stefan Edberg having left after a few days to play in a seniors' tournament, while Djokovic's long-time coach Marian Vajda was here instead of Boris Becker.
The German was watching from afar, and there were positive signs from his man in the early stages of the second set.
Federer was having a tougher job holding his service games, and Djokovic seized his chance in the eighth game when the Swiss mis-hit a forehand wide.
Djokovic then recovered from 0-30 to take the set, showing his reserves of mental strength still run deep.
The Serbian had the momentum now and he pushed for another break at the start of the decider.
Federer was the one being forced to defend for the most part and, although he saved three break points, a return drilled at his feet did the job for Djokovic on the fourth.
The world number two was looking for a reversal of their match in Dubai, where he had made the fast start only for Federer to win from a set behind for the first time in all their years of playing each other.
The crowd willed Federer to get back into it but Djokovic was playing very well now and he set up the chance to serve for the match.
Against Isner he had failed twice and been pushed to a third set, and remarkably he faltered again.
Federer brought up 0-40 and then took his second break point when Djokovic place a forehand wide.
But Federer made a poor start in the tie-break and never recovered as Djokovic sealed victory after two hours and 12 minutes.