Isner upsets Djokovic to reach Indian Wells final
By Bill Scott Mar 17, 2012, 22:01 GMT
Indian Wells, California - John Isner dealt Novak Djokovic only the second defeat of the season on Saturday, with a 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) sending the American into the final of the Indian Wells Masters.
Isner, who also played a semi-final at the last Master 1000 in Paris in November, will await a Sunday opponent from the iconic pair of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, meeting for the 28th time but the first-ever meeting at the desert event.
But rain, which had been forecast as a late cold front moved through, started only moments after the match ended, delaying the start of the second semi-final between a pair of legends with 26 Grand Slam titles between them.
Isner used his huge serve to perfection, winning on his 20th ace after firing two other in the final-set tiebreaker against world number one Djokovic. The defeat was the first for Djokovic since he lost in the Dubai semi-finals 13 days ago.
'It's frustrating when somebody serves over 70 per cent of the first serves in with that and with that angle and with that speed and accuracy,' said Djokovic, 14-2 on the season with the Australian Open his only title so far this year.
'I knew I had to stay patient and just wait for the chance. I had some chances, I didn't use them. But I thought I played a really good match. He played very well when he needed to, so all the credit to him.'
Isner was excited upon reaching his first final at the elite Masters level. 'I came out knowing that the only thing I can control is how I compete on the court, said the American, who secured a career-first Top 10 ranking through his victory, with number eight a possibility if he wins the title.
Isner lifted the 59-minute opening set in the first of the tiebreakers, coming back after losing serve in the third game with a break for 5-all on an ace.
He claimed the set on his fourth opportunity as Djokovic returned into the net.
But the world number one and winner of ten titles last season did not falter as he broke for 5-3 in the second on his way to levelling at a set apiece.
The inspired Isner missed on a match point in the 12th game of the third set when he couldn't handle a Djokovic service winner. The American then finished off his upset in the third-set decider.
The tournament marks the 23rd time in the last five years that the ranking Big Three - Djokovic, Nadal and Federer - have all advanced to the final four of an ATP event.
Isner had not previously advanced past the fourth round in his first 23 Masters 1000 starts before his Paris semi-final four months ago.
Isner won two of his three career titles in 2011 at minor events, one in his home state of North Carolina and the other on grass in Rhode Island.
Djokovic has lost only five matches at Indian Wells, while winning 24.
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