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.
“At the end, he made sure he kept the ball in play and I might have made a few too many errors when it really mattered,” Federer said.
Djokovic’s victory evened their rivalry on hard courts at 13 wins apiece. The Serb won his other Indian Wells titles in 2008 and 2011.
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.
Now she’s glad she stuck around.
“After so many years, so much work and everything, this is the moment I always waited for,” she said. “And it’s coming when you don’t expect. It was something I was waiting since long time, and finally I have a good trophy in my hands.”
Actually, the crystal trophy was so heavy, she didn’t hoist it for photographers.
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 winning at Marbella in 2010.
“We are old, but we still good athletes,” Pennetta said. “We are strong. We have so many years on the tour, and we know how to handle the emotion and everything.”
As the 20th seed, Pennetta became the lowest to win the title. She came in ranked 21st and is projected to rise to No. 12 in the world Monday in the WTA Tour rankings. She beat top-seeded Li Na in the semifinals on her way to winning the title worth $1 million.
Radwanska, seeded second, was bothered with a left knee injury during the final. She twice called for the trainer in the second set and had her knee heavily taped. She was in tears apologizing to the sympathetic crowd afterward, saying she was unable to run.
Pennetta threatened from the first game of the match, when she held two break points and had one more in the third game. She finally converted in the fifth game on Radwanska’s errant backhand, then broke again in the seventh game on the Pole’s forehand error. Pennetta won the final five games to wrap up the first set, 6-2.
Radwanska held for a 1-0 lead in the second before she got the trainer on court and Pennetta called for her coach. Pennetta staved off a break point to hold at 1-1, the last challenge Radwanska offered before it became evident she wasn’t herself. She said she hurt her knee a few days ago in practice.