Solid Win Propels Djokovic Closer to No. 1

by John on March 24, 2008

Novak Djokovic squelched the Cinderella run of Mardy Fish yesterday with a hard-fought 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 win in the final of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Calif. The title was the 20-year-old Serbian’s second of the year and improved his record to an ATP-best 17-3 in 2008. Djokovic, ranked No. 3 in the world, also won the Australian Open in January and is now making a strong bid to supplant Roger Federer as top dog on the ATP Tour. Fish blitzed Federer, No. 1 for 217 consecutive weeks, 6-3, 6-2 in one semifinal on Saturday while Djokovic handled No. 2 Rafael Nadal with ease in the other, also by a 6-3, 6-2 score. Despite the loss, Fish had a remarkable run at Indian Wells. The unseeded American knocked off No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko and No. 7 David Nalbandian before taking out the slumping Swiss Maestro. Federer has not won a tournament in three outings so far this year and had been looking to re-establish his mojo in the California desert. Fish improved his ranking from No. 98 to 42. Djokovic appeared on his way to an easy victory after winning the first set and going up 4-2 in the second. But the American rallied to win five of the next six games and had the Serb out of sorts and frustrated. Djokovic dropped the first three points on his serve to start the third set, but turned the tide with three straight aces before holding. The Serb then broke Fish in the second game and each held serve the rest of the way. Djokovic sealed the victory with a service winner. When asked if he felt Djokovic could become No. 1, Fish said yes. But as far as the top player now, he said, “Roger Federer, hands down. He’s had a few results these past few weeks that are uncharacteristic for him.  I think he’s going to be No. 1 for a long time.” Frankly, I’m not so sure.

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