John Isner beat World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic to advance to the final of the ATP Indian Wells Masters where he will face Roger Federer in the first of nine World Tour Masters 1000 events.
Isner, ranked 11th in the world before the match, defeated Serbia’s Djokovic 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) in the match yesterday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. He became the first U.S. man to beat a World No. 1 player since James Blake topped Switzerland’s Federer at the Beijing Olympics.
The win, the 26-year-old’s first over a top-ranked competitor, ensures that he will break into the Top 10 world rankings for the first time, according to the ATP website. If he wins today, he will jump two spots to reach No. 8, passing Mardy Fish to become the highest-ranking American.
“It was very special when that last ball went by him and I knew I had won the match,” Isner, who clinched the victory with his 20th ace, told reporters. “It was a weird feeling, a very nice feeling. It’s something that you don’t experience every day. So I was just trying to take it all in.”
Federer, 30, will have the chance to avenge his loss to Isner in a Davis Cup match last month.
“It’s not such a big surprise to be playing him, he’s a great player,” Federer said. “It’s nice to see him stringing a lot of match wins together. I’m looking forward to this match after he beat me in Switzerland.”
Federer took the lead early, winning the match with six aces and four breaks of serve in 91 minutes.
“I had a great day,” said Federer, who is 10-18 against Nadal. “It was a good match in tough conditions.”
Isner won two of his three career titles in 2011 at minor events. Djokovic has won 24 matches and lost five at Indian Wells.
Djokovic, 24, who lost to Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinal of the Dubai Championships on March 2, ended yesterday’s match with eight aces and two double faults.
“It’s frustrating when somebody serves over 70 percent of the first serves in and with that angle and with that speed and accuracy,” Djokovic said. “But I played him before. I knew I had to stay patient and just wait for the chance. I had some chances. I didn’t use them.”
Djokovic was looking for his fourth trip to the Indian Wells final. He finished second to Nadal in 2007 and won the title over Fish in 2008 and against Nadal in 2011.
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