INDIAN WELLS: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won the Indian Wells title with a 6-2, 6-0 rout of a hobbled Milos Raonic, taking the crown for the third straight year and a record fifth time overall.
The defending two-time champ Djokovic, who hasn’t lost in Indian Wells since 2013, on Sunday earned his 62nd career title and extended his match win streak at the joint ATP and WTA hardcourt tournament to 17 straight.
“To win this tournament five times is a fantastic achievement,” Djokovic said.
“I’m just glad to be able to raise the level of my game as the tournament progresses, and that’s something that I have been doing in the last two years particularly on the big events.”
The 28-year-old Serb won in Indian Wells in 2008 and 2011 as well as 2014 and 2015.
Djokovic is hoping Sunday’s victory will be a stepping stone to his first French Open victory in two months which would complete the career Grand Slam.
“Roland Garros has been and is this year again one of the top priorities of the season,” Djokovic said. “I have been — I felt like I have been coming closer and closer to the title in the last couple of years.
“I’m not going to change much in terms of preparation for the event.”
Djokovic said he felt like this was one of his best performances and that all the preparation he did beforehand helped him get into what he described as “the zone” when he hits the court.
“I have been managing to win most of the big matches against top 10 players,” he said. “I have a certain routine and certain preparation for these big matches that works for me, again.
“I will try to follow that kind of routine and get myself in that state of mind where I’m able to get the best out of myself when it’s most needed.”
Djokovic broke Raonic five times and made just four unforced errors compared to 27 by the Canadian, who left the court briefly at the end of the first set to seek medical treatment on his leg.
Djokovic needed just 77 minutes to send Raonic packing in one of the quickest men’s finals in the four decade history of the California desert tournament. Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Murray 6-1, 6-2 in 2009 and Lleyton Hewitt crushed Gustavo Kuerten 6-1, 6-1 in 2003.
Raonic, who usually dominates his opponents with his booming serve, finished with just four aces and two double faults.
He was broken twice early in the opening set and all three times in the second, winning just three points the entire match on his second serve.
Djokovic improved to 21-1 on the season with his only loss coming in Dubai to Feliciano Lopez, whom he beat in the fourth round in Indian Wells.
Raonic’s loss in the final ended one of the best performances of the 25-year-old Canadian’s career.
Raonic, a winner in Brisbane earlier this year, just returned from a six-week layoff due to a torn thigh muscle that hindered him in a semi-final loss to Murray at the Australian Open.
He said the injury that hobbled him Sunday could be the same one.
“I just hope it has nothing to do with the previous issue I had,” said Raonic of his difficulties moving around the court against Djokovic.
“Feels similar, but not as bad. I don’t think I let it get as bad.”
The injury forced him to miss the Davis Cup earlier this month when Canada was blasted 5-0 by France.
Raonic said he wasn’t taking anything away from Djokovic’s victory.
“I don’t think it affected my effort. I thought he played much better than I did. I struggled again,” he said. AFP