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Federer, Azarenka win titles in California desert
Question of the Day
Federer improved to 39-2 since last year’s U.S. Open, with his only losses to No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the Australian Open and the 11th-ranked Isner, who won on the Swiss star’s home turf last month.
Federer’s victory tied him with Nadal for most ATP World Tour Masters 1000 career titles at 19. Federer won three straight titles here from 2004-06 and his fourth snapped a tie with Jimmy Connors and Michael Chang.
Isner had a breakthrough two weeks in the desert, beating top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals to reach his first Masters 1000 final. That assured him of entering the top 10 for the first time at No. 10 when the latest rankings come out Monday.
“I’m going to remember this one for a long time, so getting into the top 10 is nice,” Isner said. “The hard thing now is staying inside of the top 10. That’s what I’ve got to work on.”
The big-serving American actually had three fewer aces than Federer’s seven, with his fastest serve clocked at 135 mph, slower than the 135-143 mph he was hitting against Djokovic. Federer broke him on Isner’s netted backhand volley to go up 4-3 in the second. He closed out the match on Isner’s forehand that landed in the net.
“I served pretty well,” Isner said. “I don’t think I lost the match because I didn’t serve as well. He was on top of me and his forehand was way too good.”
In the tiebreaker, Isner was serving at 7-all when Federer managed a backhand lob over his 6-foot-9 opponent and Isner let it go, with the ball landing on the baseline. Federer won that point and the next to take the set.
“A little bit unlucky there,” Isner said. “I’m not complaining. I had a lot of things go my way this week.”
Azarenka broke Sharapova six times in improving her record to 23-0 this year, the best start to a season since Martina Hingis went 37-0 to open 1997. The top-ranked Belarusian won her Tour-leading fourth title of the year.
“It’s important to stay humble and to know that what I have been doing is working,” Azarenka said. “Don’t forget those little details, and being disciplined, professional off the court is as important as being determined and really hard working on the court.”
The women’s final was a rematch of the Australian Open final, which Azarenka won 6-3, 6-0 in January to keep Sharapova from regaining the No. 1 ranking. This time, Sharapova was error-prone during the 1½-hour match on an unusually cold, windy day in the desert. The second-ranked Russian kept hitting close to the lines and missing.
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