Tennis-Top seed Nadal next target for unstoppable Djokovic


Sun, 20 Mar 01:45:00 2011

Unstoppable so far this season, Novak Djokovic will put his perfect 17-0 record on the line against world number one Rafa Nadal in Sunday's final of the Indian Wells ATP tournament.

The 23-year-old Serb reached his third consecutive ATP Tour final with his confidence at an all-time high after beating Roger Federer 6-3 3-6 6-2 on Saturday in a gripping encounter.

Djokovic, who said he has been seeing the tennis ball "as large as a watermelon" at the California desert venue relished the challenge of competing against the game's best in the biggest events.

"It's exciting to be a part of very interesting and very long and good matches against these guys," Djokovic told reporters after defeating Federer for a third successive time this year.

"Matches between the best players in the world, they're always very intense and as a very emotional player, I get very intense.

"Confidence is probably the most important (factor). And if you are in the momentum, you want to try to keep that momentum going, keep that confidence rolling for you."

The Serb won his second Australian Open crown in January, his 20th ATP World Tour title at last month's Dubai championships and on Sunday he will be bidding for his sixth success in an elite Masters 1000 event.


"It's obvious that my confidence is very high at this moment," Djokovic said. "I will just have the same routine stepping on the court tomorrow with Rafa, and try to play my best game. Nothing really special."

Although Djokovic has lost to the Spanish left-hander 16 times in 23 career meetings, he has won three of their last five encounters.

"I have played Nadal many times, and many times in the late stages of the tournaments, especially in the semis and finals of the major events," the Serbian world number three said.

"So I will be prepared. I want this trophy as much as he wants it, so we'll both step into the court tomorrow wanting that win."

Djokovic, regarded by many of his peers as possessing the best return of serve in the men's game, will be taking on a Spaniard who dominated the tour last year and who covers the baseline like a hare.

"We all know about his groundstrokes," Djokovic said. "There's not much to explain there. He's the best baseline player in the world. If I have to, I have to be aggressive. That's the only way against him."

Asked to explain his recent run of success against Federer, a 16-times grand slam champion, Djokovic replied: "My approach to the matches against Roger is maybe different than it was in the past two years.

"Right now I have more self-belief when I step on the court against him. Before it was: 'Let's hope that I can play well.' He's still playing great tennis. He's still one of the best players in the world."

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