Following the Davis Cup title for Serbia in 2010, Novak Djokovic became the dominant figure in men's tennis, embracing an incredible run in 2011 and staying undefeated until June and Roland Garros. Novak claimed titles at the Australian Open and Dubai, heading to Indian Wells as the clear favorite and improving his score to a 17-0 that year thanks to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Roger Federer in two hours and seven minutes.
It was Novak's ninth triumph over Roger and the third in a row that season, taking six points more than the Swiss and prevailing with a dominant performance in the deciding set to set Rafael Nadal clash. Both players had their chances on the return, with 19 break points up for grabs, as they couldn't find the desired rhythm behind the initial shot, spraying almost 70 unforced errors in what wasn't one of their best matches.
In the end, it was Djokovic who played better when it mattered the most, fending off six out of nine break chances and seizing five opportunities on the return to seal the deal and advance into the final. Novak had the upper hand in the shortest range up to four strokes that secured the victory for him, with Roger staying in touch in the more advanced exchanges but not doing enough damage with his initial shot, something he lacked against such a strong rival.
The first big moment came in the fifth game when Djokovic grabbed a break following Federer's massive forehand error, fending off two break chances in the next one and closing it with a volley winner to open a 4-2 gap.
In 2011, Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in Indian Wells semi-final.
Returning at 5-3, Djokovic produced a fantastic defense to secure another break and wrap up the set when the Swiss sprayed a forehand error. There were no mistakes from Federer's forehand in the second set's third game, firing down the line winner to grab a break and forging a 3-1 advantage with a service winner.
Like Novak in the first, Roger secured a break at 5-3 to complete the set and gain momentum ahead of the decider, eager to become the first player to beat Novak in 2011. Instead of that, the Serb started all over and delivered a break in the final set's first game after Roger's backhand error.
The Swiss had the opportunity to pull it back in the next one, only to lose four straight points and allow Djokovic to bring the game home with a forehand down the line winner and cement his lead. Roger got back on the positive side of the scoreboard with a break at love in the fourth game thanks to Novak's double fault.
The Swiss took ten of the last 11 points before Djokovic stole his serve in game five after Federer's double fault. With momentum on his side, Novak held at love to extend the advantage, fired a forehand down the line winner for another break at 4-2 and fended off a break chance a few minutes later to bring the victory home with an unreturned serve and set Rafael Nadal encounter.