Four years after their first ATP final in Indian Wells, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal met in the title clash in the desert again in 2011. Djokovic reached his 12th Masters 1000 final and the first since Paris 2009 thanks to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Roger Federer in two hours and seven minutes.
Djokovic toppled Federer for the third time in as many matches in 2011, beating him for the ninth time in 22 meetings and improving his 2011 score to 17-0. Novak bounced back after losing the second set to have the upper hand in the decider and set the title clash against Rafael Nadal.
The Serb won six points more than the Swiss, with 19 break chances up for grabs overall on slow hard court. They also sprayed over 70 unforced errors, and Novak found the rhythm when he needed it the most to emerge at the top.
Novak saved six out of nine break points and grabbed five return games from ten opportunities.
Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the 2011 Indian Wells semi-final.
Djokovic had the advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, earning his victory in that segment after they stayed neck and neck in the more advanced exchanges.
The Serb broke in the opener's fifth game after a massive forehand mistake from his opponent. Novak saved two break chances in the next game and closed it with a volley winner for a 4-2 advantage. Djokovic defended superbly in the ninth game to secure the second break and claim the opener 6-3.
Federer bounced back at 1-1 in the second set, stealing Djokovic's serve with a forehand down the line winner and hitting a service winner a few minutes later for 3-1. Roger broke again at 5-3 to clinch the set and introduce a decider, hoping to become the first player who defeated Novak in 2011.
Instead, the Serb made a fresh start and grabbed a break in the opening game after the Swiss' backhand mistake. Federer wasted his opportunity in the second game, and Djokovic brought it home with four straight points to cement his lead after a forehand down the line winner.
Roger broke at love in game four after Novak's double fault to lock the result at 2-2 and take ten of the last 11 points. Instead of building on that, Federer experienced a break in game five following a costly double fault.
Djokovic was on a roll now, and he held at love in game six to open a 4-2 gap. Novak landed a forehand down the line winner in the seventh game to secure another break and move 5-2 ahead. The Serb fended off a break chance in the eighth game and fired a service winner to seal the deal and arrange the title clash against Rafael Nadal.