Djokovic hardly raised a sweat in the Californian desert as he
eased to a 6-1 6-3 victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau, before
the towering Isner rode his booming serve to a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) win
over Latvia's Ernests Gulbis.
Djokovic was not at his absolute best but was never in any real
danger against the 32-year-old Benneteau, who beat him at Indian
Wells eight years ago when the Serb was still a teenager.
Djokovic, 26, raced through the opening set in less than half an
hour with two service breaks and four aces despite the windy
conditions and an approaching sand storm.
The first six games of the second set all went with serve before
Djokovic reeled off the last three in a row to seal a comfortable
victory in less than 70 minutes.
He broke Benneteau for a 4-3 lead when the Frenchman double faulted,
then again to wrap up the win when his opponent hit a forehand long
"I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and
it's what I was looking for. It's never too easy," said Djokovic,
who won the Indian Wells title in 2008 and 2011.
"First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and
downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point.
"He made a lot of unforced errors, and obviously I just needed to
make him play an extra shot and serve well. I have done everything I
Isner had a tougher time against Gulbis, saving a set point before
winning the opener in a tiebreaker after the first 12 games went
Isner fell behind in the second set when Gulbis found a way to break
his serve, for just the second time in the tournament, but the
Latvian was unable to capitalize as the American broke back and won
the second tiebreaker.
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Djokovic was beaten by Isner in the semi-finals at Indian Wells two
years ago, losing first and third-set tiebreakers.
"He's definitely not somebody you like to play in the big heat with
such serve," Djokovic said.
"It's very challenging because he doesn't miss his serve too much,
so you have to kind of be able to hold your composure from the first
to the last point and be ready to play three tie-breaks."
Djokovic will go into the semis as a heavy favorite but Isner will
not be without his supporters.
"Two years ago I took the court believing I could win that match, so
it's much of the same here in 2014," said Isner.
"But, I think I can draw a little bit from that in 2012. It's a good
situation for me. I'd like to have the crowd on my side like I did
two years ago.
"All that it helps me so much. It's an advantage for me I think to
play here at home. But at the same time, it's going to be very
Saturday's other semi-final will be between Switzerland's Roger
Federer and Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who won their
quarter-finals on Thursday.
(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; editing by Peter
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