- Andy Roddick - Novak Djokovic - Rafael Nadal - tennis
AFP - Andy Roddick ousted defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Friday to set up a semi-final clash with world number one Rafael Nadal at the Indian Wells hardcourt tennis tournament.
Roddick, seeded seventh, needed just 68 minutes to dispatch the out-of-sorts Serbian 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic, seeded third, double-faulted to give Roddick a match point, on which he fired a backhand long. He finished with 30 unforced errors.
Nadal, meanwhile, bounced back from a tough fourth-round match to notch a 6-2, 6-4 victory over sixth-seeded Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro.
Two days earlier, Nadal saved five match points as he clawed his way to a win over Argentina's David Nalbandian.
There was no comprable drama in his victory over del Potro, although he hit a speed bump against the world number six in the second set.
Leading 5-1, Nadal lost three straight games, del Potro saving a match point against his serve in the ninth game.
The Spaniard then bore down to close out the match with a love game - and headed off the practice court to work on a few things.
"I went to practise a little bit more the serve, because I served well in the beginning but later I had some mistakes, and a little bit more the backhand," Nadal said.
However, he was pleased to get a straight-sets win over the sixth-ranked player in the world, and pleased that, in contrast to his previous match, he went in with a clear strategy that he was able to execute.
Against Roddick, Nadal said, he couldn't afford either a slow start or a shaky finish.
"He started the season very well. Semi-finals in Australia. He played the final in Doha, too, and he won in Memphis," he said of the American. "I have to play very well."
Roddick said he was satisfied with his performance, although he knew Djokovic was below his best.
"I don't think he had his best day, by any means. That obviously helps right away," Roddick said. "I mixed up the paces pretty well. I hit my forehand when I had to. The chip was a pretty good neutralizing shot for me today. I was hitting it pretty firm, and I didn't really miss any returns."
Djokovic had been gunning for his third straight appearance in the final at the first Masters series tournament of the year.
In 2007, he reached the final without dropping a set, but lost to Nadal, and last year he beat Nadal in the semi-finals before triumphing over surprise finalist Mardy Fish.
Djokovic has made a somewhat slow start to the season, but had appeared to be on the upswing after capturing his first title of 2009 in Dubai two weeks ago.
By booking his semi-final berth, Roddick matched his best performance at Indian Wells, where he made it to the final four in 2005 and 2007.
He broke Djokovic in the opening game of the match and wrapped up the first set with another break.
He gained the upper hand in the second set with a break to lead 4-2 and closed it out with yet another break.
"This was one of the worst matches, certainly, that I played," Djokovic said.
In women's action, defending champion Ana Ivanovic ended the Cinderella run of Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenko with a 6-2, 6-3 semi-final victory.
Pavlyuchenko, 17, had beaten world number three Jelena Jankovic and number 10 Agnieszka Radwanska en route to her first WTA Tour semi-final.
In Sunday's final, the fifth-seeded Ivanovic will face fourth-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva.
Zvonareva reached the final with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over doubles partner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.