After becoming the ruler of men's tennis in 2011, Novak Djokovic won one Major title and three Masters 1000 crowns in the upcoming year to stay on the winning course, prevailing over Roger Federer to finish as the year-end no.
1 for the second straight year. Novak won all five matches at the ATP Finals at the end of the season, defeating Federer in the final and gathering momentum ahead of 2013 where he was the player to beat together with Rafael Nadal.
The Serb was the most efficient player in the opening two months, conquering the Australian Open and Dubai and heading to Indian Wells with a perfect 13-0 score in the season so far. In the previous year, John Isner prevailed against Djokovic in the semi-final in the desert to halt the Serb's progress, with Novak seeking another deep run and to repeat the title won in California in 2011.
In the first test, world no. 1 took down Fabio Fognini in three sets, setting the clash against Grigor Dimitrov in one of the matches of the third round. Djokovic toppled Dimitrov in Shanghai last fall and came victorious in this one as well, scoring a 7-6, 6-1 triumph in 68 minutes for the place in the round of 16 and his 18th straight victory.
Novak played better on both the first and second serve, fending off one out of two break chances and forcing Grigor to repeat the same if he wanted to stay in touch. Dimitrov was ready to follow Djokovic's pace in the first set before the Serb raced towards the finish line, wrapping up the second in no time at all and staying on the title course.
The Bulgarian held at love in the first game before Novak did the same in game two after a forehand down the line winner that got him on the scoreboard. Grigor made another great hold in game three and created three break chances in the next one, converting the second following a forehand error from Novak to open a 3-1 gap.
Controlling the pace so far, Dimitrov held at 15 to move further in front, looking better and better after only 12 minutes. With more potential problems in game six, Djokovic grabbed four points in a row to make a hold with a service winner before Grigor held after a couple of deuces to extend the lead to a 5-2.
With no room for errors, Novak secured a break in the ninth game following a costly double fault from the Bulgarian in the worst possible moment, allowing Djokovic to level the score at 5-5 with a service winner. Both players delivered comfortable holds to set up a tie break where Djokovic forged a 5-0 advantage after three mini-breaks, securing the set in the 11th point when the Bulgarian sprayed a backhand error.
They both made too many errors in the opener and it was the better-ranked player who found the way to overcome the deficit and prevail, gathering massive momentum ahead of set number two where he held at 15 in the first game after an unreturned serve.
Losing ground completely, Grigor sprayed a forehand mistake to suffer a break in game two, with Novak moving further ahead following another booming serve in the third game. With the finishing line clearly in his sight, Djokovic produced another fine hold and grabbed a break at 15 to move a game away from the victory.
Serving at 5-1, Novak fired four service winners to seal the deal and advance into the next round steadily, improving his 2013 score to a 15-0.