INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to win the BNP Paribas Open for the third time on Sunday.
Federer rallied from a break down and a 5-3 deficit in the third set to force the tiebreaker, but he made a slew of mistakes to lose the 33rd meeting between the rivals.
Federer still leads the series 17-16, having beaten Djokovic in three sets in the semifinals at Dubai two weeks ago. Djokovic will remain No. 2 in the world, while Federer will rise three spots to No. 5 today in the ATP Tour rankings.
Flavia Pennetta routed injured Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 to win the women’s title, the biggest of her career.
After Federer breezed to the first set in 31 minutes, Djokovic settled down and locked into the punishing rallies that marked most of the match. He earned the lone break of the second set to go up 5-3 after Federer pulled a forehand wide.
Djokovic got the early break in the third, again on one of Federer’s forehand errors, to lead 2-1. His 112-mph ace gave him a 4-2 lead, and he extended it to 5-3 with a backhand winner down the line.
Federer served a love-game to trail 5-4 and then broke Djokovic on a forehand error to tie the set, 5-5. Federer held at love again and Djokovic gave up just one point on his serve for a 6-all tie.
The Serb raced to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker, helped by four errors from Federer. Another of Federer’s forehand errors gave Djokovic a 6-2 lead before the Swiss star’s ace ensured Djokovic would have to win the match on his serve. He did, when Federer’s backhand landed in the net.
Djokovic’s victory evened their rivalry on hard courts at 13 wins apiece.
A year ago, Pennetta was close to retiring from tennis.
Her ranking plunged to 166th in the world in June, and she had struggled to rebuild her career after having right wrist surgery the previous August.
The 32-year-old Italian became the third-oldest winner of the desert tournament after Martina Navratilova, who won at age 33 and again at 34 in 1990-91. It was Pennetta’s first title since 2010.