Boris Becker was once regarded as a guy with steely nerves and stable heartbeat. But working as Novak Djokovic’s chief coach for the past few months and watching his ward missing the finals of major tournaments must have affected him in some way. As if on cue, the Serbian decided to have his long-time coach Marian Vajda in Indian Wells with no disrespect meant for Becker. Amidst speculations on the success of his partnership with Boris Becker, Djokovic announced that he is still in touch with the celebrated German, but also added that Vajda is one person, who has known him completely as a person and player for the last eight years. Most of Djokovic’s important titles were won with Vajda around somewhere in the corner. He rubbished reports about parting company with Becker and said that Boris is new to his team and they were still in the process of getting to know each other.
In Marian Vajda’s presence yesterday, Djokovic finally won his first title of the 2014 season, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells California. But it was not an easy victory for him by any means, because the Serbian was up against the world’s most accomplished tennis player, who is playing better and better this season. If proof was required, one only needed to watch the final, when Federer simply outplayed him in the first set and after conceding the second set, broke back at a time, when Djokovic held a match point in the decider. But the world no. 2 collected himself and dug deep into his reserves to force a tie-break before closing the match on a winning note.
Djokovic had a bad start this year, when he couldn’t defend the Australian Open, where he had been a champion for three successive years until 2013. Of the 6 Grand Slams that Djokovic has won in his career, 50% contribution comes from Melbourne alone. He suffered a loss against the ultimate champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open quarterfinals and then lost in the semifinal of Dubai Duty-free tournament, where Roger Federer beat him 15 days ago.
The last match of the BNP Paribas Open was worthy of a true final between two greats in the game, who produced a thriller. Early on in the game, Federer’s aggression was evident as he pocketed the first set 6-3 in just 31 minutes and avoided any break of serve until the eighth game of the second set. It was at this point that Djokovic raised his game and won the second set. He broke Federer’s serve early in the third set and held a match point at 5-4. But Federer forced a service break. The ensuing tie-break was completed dominated by the Serb. In avenging his loss to Federer suffered at Dubai, Djokovic also ended Federer’s 11 match winning streak this year. It is amazing that the big four of the ATP, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray have shared between themselves 33 out of the last 35 victories in the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, of which Indian Wells’ BNP Paribas Open is a part. Despite his loss yesterday, Roger Federer will jump to no. 5 in the ATP rankings, which will be announced later today.
In other results of the tournament, 20th seed Italian Flavia Pennetta was helped by an injury suffered by the 2nd seeded player Agnieszka Radawanska of Poland in the women’s singles final. The 32-year old Pennetta, who beat Radawanska 6-2, 6-1, had been considering retirement for some time. But at Indian Wells, Pennetta had a great outing, which included the victory over world no. 2 Chinese, Li Na in the semifinals. In men’s doubles, top seeded Bob and Mike Bryan of USA defeated Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil 6-4. 6-3, while in the women’s doubles Su Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei and Peng Shuai of China beat Sania Mirza of India and Cara Black of Zimbabwe 7-6, 6-2.