BNP Paribas Open 2014 Finals: Two contrasting contests produce two worthy champions

Indian Wells’ worthy winners – Novak had to fight
harder for his win but Flavia slew the top two seeds en route

Yesterday almost saw a double bill of the old world conquering the new but, for a poor tiebreak from a certain Swiss it wasn’t to be.

First, Flavia Pennetta – fresh from stunning top seed Li Na in the previous round – put a below-par Radwanska to the sword.

In what was the Italian’s biggest career title so far, the 6-2, 6-1 rout was just that. The delicate Pole struggled with a knee injury and never got near any sort of rhythm. Her opponent truly is turning back the clock to her days in the Top Ten club, and in ruthless fashion.

Powerful yet controlled groundstrokes blew Aga away but when touch and finesse were required, Flavia came up with the goods. A delicious backhand dropshot halfway through the 2nd set just one highlight.

There is every chance the 32 year old can repeat the Indian summer stays in the top ten of her compatriots Schiavone and Errani if this continues.

For Radwanska, well as I tweeted after the match, she is for me the only other player apart from Li Na, truly capable of taking advantage of an off-colour Serena and take many a major title in 2014 and certainly the rankings top spot.

Sharapova remains inconsistent and Azarenka is looking increasingly – and worryingly – like the Serena of a few years back, where off-court antics, commitments and lifestyle are detracting a bit from on court focus.

If the women’s final was a damp squib in Indian Wells, the men more than made up for it.

A true classic, and a rematch of the Dubai semi’s last month: Djokovic and Federer thrilled us all with a ding dong three setter.

Momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the encounter with a flawless Fed gliding to a 6-3 first set in half an hour.

It was vintage stuff and rightly Djokovic was left stunned, slumped and fearing the inevitable.

But although there were indeed more lapses, wobbles and wanderings the Serb slowly turned the screw in a tight second set. In what were his first break points, Djokovic was soon ruthless and in control as he took the second 6-3 and then went on to break a lagging Federer early in the third.

As in Dubai, Federer seemed reluctant to come forward (true, such was his quality from the baseline there was little need in that first hour) but when he did it was enough to snatch three straight games and move from 3-5 to 6-5 in a majestic passage of play.

But Novak finally dug deep – as he has struggled to do this year – and slammed the door shut, especially in that deciding breaker where Roger’s dramatic capitulation was as devastating as it was uncharacteristic of his 2014 incarnation.

Expect these two to go far in the second Premier event in Miami this fortnight.

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