Djokovic to face Federer
Novak Djokovic (AP Photo)
Indian Wells - Novak Djokovic moved relentlessly into the Indian Wells semi-finals with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Friday, extending his perfect record this season to 16-0.
The Australian Open champion survived early service breaks by the Frenchman in each set to seal the win in one hour 35 minutes on the showpiece stadium court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Djokovic came from 0-3 down in the second set and capitalised on a rising tally of unforced errors by his pressurised opponent to book his place in the last four of the elite ATP Masters 1000 event.
The Serbian world number three will next meet three-times champion Roger Federer, who brushed aside his fellow Swiss and doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-4 in the last eight.
Federer, whose second-ranked status will be on the line against Djokovic in Saturday's semi-final, swept through the first set in just 29 minutes and broke Wawrinka once in the second to advance.
"It's been the best period of my tennis career the last three months, winning a grand slam, the Davis Cup and playing really well here at Indian Wells," Djokovic said courtside after ousting Gasquet.
"Confidence plays a very important role in the life of a tennis player. That's what it's all about, my game these days.
"I do feel really comfortable on the court and I'm trying to use that confidence because I know that it can easily change. It's a very mental game."
The 23-year-old Serb claimed his second grand slam crown at the Australian Open in January and his 20th ATP title at last month's Dubai championships. He is on a career-best 18-match win streak dating back to last year's Davis Cup final.
Gasquet, who upset eighth-seeded American Andy Roddick to reach the last eight at Indian Wells, said he continually struggled with Djokovic's return of serve which he rated the best in the men's game.
"He returns incredible, that's for sure," the 24-year-old Frenchman said. "So to make some (service) points for myself is really difficult. That's why he broke me a lot of times.
"That's a big weapon for me, the serve, and I couldn't (win) points with it. For me, Djokovic has the best return. Compared to Rafa (Nadal) and Roger, he has the best return.
Federer improved his win-loss record this season to 18-3 after a commanding display against Wawrinka, registering his eighth victory over his compatriot in nine meetings.
"I am very happy," the 16-times grand slam champion said courtside after the match ended when a Wawrinka backhand service return sailed wide. "It's been a good start to the year.
"I've had a very good hardcourt swing the last six months and I am excited I am playing so well. Physically, I am really healthy and super-motivated. I am excited to be in the semi-finals again."