- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. (AP) - No. 7 Andy Roddick beat defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-2 Friday and will face No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open.

Nadal, trying for his second Indian Wells title in three years, rolled to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

No. 2 Roger Federer, who won the title three consecutive years beginning in 2004, faces No. 4 Andy Murray on Saturday in the other semifinal.

Roddick’s game was solid all-around against No. 3 Djokovic. The error-prone Serbian made 30 unforced errors, 18 more than his American opponent.

Roddick shortly afterward went out to play a doubles semifinal with partner Mardy Fish.

The singles semifinals appearance will be Roddick’s third at Indian Wells. He lost to Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 and to Nadal in 2007.

Djokovic was extremely disappointed with his play against Roddick.

“It’s just one of the days when you really don’t feel comfortable on the court,” he said. “I just didn’t have any momentum _ no feel for the ball, no movement. Just no solutions. It was all me making an incredible amount of unforced errors.

“This was one of the worst matches, certainly, I played.”

Nadal covered the court extremely well in his win over del Potro, keeping the ball in play even when the Argentine had him racing from side to side. Often, Nadal would be on the run and slash a winner crosscourt or down the line. He hit 25 winners, 13 with his forehand.

Nadal, who supplanted longtime No. 1 Federer at the top of the rankings last year, is playing in the desert tournament for the fifth time. He has made it at least to the semifinals each of the past four years and took the title in 2007 with a win over Djokovic.

On the women’s side, Vera Zvonareva defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 to gain the final.

The two will be on the same side on Saturday in a title match, meeting Gisela Dulko and Shahar Peer in the doubles final.

“We’ve been playing pretty good here,” Zvonareva said. “She’s a very nice girl and good partner, so I’m enjoying it. Then I will have to come back for my singles (on Sunday), which I’m very excited about.”

Meanwhile, Azarenka was not so happy after her lopsided loss in singles.

“I didn’t do even 10 percent of my game today. It was a wasted match,” Azarenka said.

No. 6 Zvonareva, a 24-year-old from Moscow, made it to the championship for the first time in five appearances at Indian Wells. She previously had advanced as far as the quarterfinals in the event three times, including last year when she lost to eventual champion Ana Ivanovic.

“It’s my first finals here and it’s a big event, great tournament, and I’m really happy about it,” Zvonareva said.

The 19-year-old Azarenka, from Belarus, lost for only the second time in 19 matches this year. Zvonareva improved to an identical 17-2.

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