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Novak Djokovic Nadal |reach BNP Paribas
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Novak Djokovic beats Nadal to reach BNP Paribas Open final.
Novak Djokovic is one win away from a fifth BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells after overcoming his great rival Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the semi-finals.
The world number one sealed his sixth successive win against the Spaniard, and 10th in their past 11 matches, but he was pushed to his limits in a tense first set before coming through 7-6, 6-2.
He will now be bidding for his third successive crown in California when he takes on Milos Raonic in the final on Sunday after the Canadian defeated David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the other semi-final.
Novak Djokovic has been without peer for much of the past 18 months while Nadal has endured a chastening start to 2016, most notably suffering the ignominy of a first-round exit at the Australian Open.
However, the Spaniard has this week enjoyed an upturn in fortunes at a tournament he has won three times â€“ and his rejuvenation seemed set to continue as he made a roaring start to his 48th meeting with Djokovic.
The Serb, who led their head-to-head 24-23 after thrashing Nadal 6-1, 6-2 in their previous meeting in Doha in January, won the opening point with a cross-court backhand following a 24-shot rally that set the tone for the contest.
However, the tenacious Nadal held serve and then surprisingly broke his opponent to establish a 2-0 lead, only to then give the break back as Djokovic started to find some rhythm.
Both combatants matched each other blow-for-blow in a set that thereafter stayed with serve, with Nadal unable to convert a set point at 5-4 ahead.
Djokovic asserted his authority in the tie-break, opening up a 4-1 advantage, only for Nadal to display immense fortitude in levelling at 5-5.
However, the No4 seed then sent a limp backhand into the net to surrender the first set in a little over an hour and was always on the back foot as Djokovic raised his intensity levels.
Nadal managed to repel wave after wave of attack from Djokovic but the pressure eventually told as he was broken in the sixth game of the second set, netting a forehand after saving the first break point.
While Nadal was able to stave off four match points in his next service game, including battling back from 0-40 down, the left-hander sent a forehand long to hand Djokovic victory in a little under two hours.
Only Raonic stands in his way from claiming his 27th Masters title, with the 12th seed going the distance against Belgiumâ€™s Goffin.
Raonic, playing in his first event since the Australian Open following an adductor tear, decisively broke Goffin in the fourth game as he took the first set, although his opponent returned the favour to take the match to a decider.
The 12th seed broke immediately at the start of the third and held on to reach the final of the competition for the first time, eclipsing his best effort of 12 months ago when he was beaten in the last four by Roger Federer.