INDIAN WELLS: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and American John Isner cruised into the last four of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Friday with straight-sets wins in the quarterfinals. Djokovic hardly raised a sweat in the Californian desert as he eased to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau, before the towering Isner rode his booming serve to a 7-6(4), 7-6(3) win over Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis. Djokovic was not at his absolute best but was never in any real danger against the 32-year-old Benneteau, who beat him at Indian Wells eight years ago when the Serb was still a teenager.
Djokovic, 26, raced through the opening set in less than half an hour with two service breaks and four aces despite the windy conditions and an approaching sand storm. The first six games of the second set all went with serve before Djokovic reeled off the last three in a row to seal a comfortable victory in less than 70 minutes. He broke Benneteau for a 4-3 lead when the Frenchman double faulted, then again to wrap up the win when his opponent hit a forehand long and wide.
Isner had a tougher time against Gulbis; saving a set point before winning the opener in a tiebreaker after the first 12 games went with serve. Isner fell behind in the second set when Gulbis found a way to break his serve, for just the second time in the tournament, but the Latvian was unable to capitalise as the American broke back and won the second tiebreaker. Isner beat Djokovic in the semifinals at Indian Wells two years ago, losing first and third-set tiebreakers. Djokovic will go into the semis as a heavy favourite but Isner will not be without his supporters. Saturday’s other semifinal will be between Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who won their quarterfinals on Thursday.
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