NOVAK Djokovic has overcome Roger Federer in three sets to successfully defend his Indian Wells crown and claim his 50th career ATP title.
The 27-year-old world number one also captured his fourth Indian Wells crown with a 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 successnand is now tied with Federer for the most men’s titles in the California desert.
Djokovic also raised the trophy in 2008 and 2011 at the Tennis Garden stadium.
It was another epic struggle in a long list of hardcourt battles between the two top players in the world who have met 38 times with Swiss great Federer still holding a slight 20-18 edge.
Djokovic had lost his last two matches to Federer in straight sets after beating him in last year’s Wimbledon final. Djokovic also needed three sets to beat Federer in the 2014 Indian Wells title match.
The two have combined to win eight of the last 12 Indian Wells titles but this is the first time they have met in back-to-back finals.
Djokovic blasted eight aces, 26 winners and broke Federer five times in the two hour, 17 minute battle in front of a crowd of 14,000.
Federer couldn’t overcome his poor serving and 43 unforced errors.
Djokovic surpassed his coach Boris Becker (49) to become the 12th player in open era history with 50 ATP Tour titles.
Meanwhile in the women’s event, Simona Halep claimed the biggest title of her career with a 2-6 7-5 6-4 victory over former champion Jelena Jankovic.
The hard-fought triumph over the former world No.1 made Romania’s 23-year-old Halep the first player to win three WTA titles this year.
Halep, ranked third in the world, won four of the final five games in the third set to earn the marathon victory in two hours, 37 minutes.
“I was a little nervous during the match but I knew I could keep it in my hands. I did really, really great today,” Halep said.