Following the Davis Cup title for Serbia at the end of 2010, Novak Djokovic became the dominant figure in the 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 the ninth triumph for Novak 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 the clash against Rafael Nadal.
Both players had their chances on the return, with 19 break chances up for grabs overall 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 up to that point.
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 a massive forehand error from Federer, fending off two break chances in the next game and closing it with a volley winner to open a 4-2 gap.
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 third game of the second set, firing down the line winner to grab a break and forging a 3-1 advantage with a service winner.
Just like Novak in the first set, Roger secured a break at 5-3 to complete the set and gain momentum ahead of the decider, eager to become the first player with a victory over Novak in 2011. Instead of that, the Serb started all over and delivered a break in the first game of the final set after a backhand error from the Swiss who had the opportunity to pull it back in the next game, only to lose four straight points as Djokovic held with a forehand down the line winner to cement his lead.
Roger managed to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard with a break at love in the fourth game thanks to a double fault from Novak, taking ten of the last 11 points before Djokovic stole his serve in game five after a double fault from the Swiss who missed a massive chance to move in front.
With the momentum on his side, Novak held at love to extend the advantage, firing a forehand down the line winner for another break in game seven and fending off a break chance in the next game to bring the victory home with an unreturned serve for the place in the title match.