Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Surprise, Novak Djokovic captured yet another hardcourt championship over the weekend and reached a personal milestone with his 50th career ATP World Tour title.
And there appears to be no end in sight.
Djokovic's latest big win came at the expense of Roger Federer, who upset the Serbian star in last month's final in Dubai. As a matter of fact, Federer had won their last two meetings on hardcourts, in straight sets, with Shanghai (last year) being the other.
This time around, Djokovic prevailed in three sets to tie Federer with his fourth Indian Wells Masters title, which he did with help of first-serve variety and second serves to the Federer forehand, which prevented the Swiss legend from utilizing one of his favorite tactics against Djokovic -- the chip and charge with a backhand off the second serve in the deuce court.
Djokovic has won in his last nine Masters 1000 finals appearances, and this one was clearly one of his smartest.
"It's great that I managed to win this match in the big tournament and to win it in a way that I felt like I was the better player on the court," Djokovic said. "It's going to give me confidence, not just for future matches that I play against Federer, but just for Miami and the rest of the season."
It was a repeat performance for the world No. 1 Djoker, who also tackled the former top-ranked great Fed in three sets in last year's finale in the California desert. Djokovic has won all three of their matches overall at Indian Wells.
Djokovic and Federer have now met on 38 occasions on tour, with Federer leading, 20-18. The Serb, however, is 3-2 in their career Masters finals and 8-5 in their overall title tilts.
Djokovic and Federer are also the only pair in Open Era history to have met 29 times on hardcourts (Federer leads 15-14) in what I consider to be the best rivalry in the sport.
Note: Djokovic's coach Boris Becker and Federer's coach Stefan Edberg are former world No. 1s who played each other 35 times.
With his fourth title at Indian Wells, Djokovic matched Federer as the most successful competitor in the history of the tournament and became the 12th player in the Open Era to capture 50 career titles, surpassing his coach, Becker, at 49.
The 27-year-old improved to 50-23 in his career finals, is 10th on the all- time victories list in the Open Era (since 1968), and third on the active titles list behind only Federer (84) and Rafael Nadal (65).
Djokovic, who pocketed more than $900,000 this past weekend and now has career earnings in excess of $76 million, also earned 1,000 rankings points for his latest effort. And with 138 weeks at No. 1, he is just three weeks away from tying Nadal for the sixth-most weeks at the summit of the rankings, which originated Aug. 23, 1973.
Djokovic now has 13,205 points, while the second-ranked Federer is 4,000 points back, at 9,205. The next-closest competitor is Nadal with 5,810 points.
So it looks like Nole will remain on top for the foreseeable future.
Did You Know?: Federer and Djokovic sit at second on the most open-era matchups list and are now just four meetings behind Djokovic vs. Nadal.
The Belgrade native Djokovic is off to a sizzling 19-2 start this season, including a fifth Australian Open championship in January.
In addition to his setback against Federer in Dubai, his only other loss came against "Dr. Ivo" (Ivo Karlovic) in a quarterfinal in Doha the first week of the season.
The reigning Aussie Open and Wimbledon champion will seek a ninth Grand Slam title at the French Open later this spring. The Serbian star has never captured the French, where he's finished as a runner-up to the nine-time winner Nadal in two of the last three years.
Djokovic is now gearing up for the Masters event in Miami, where he's, surprise, the defending champ, having beaten Nadal in last year's final for a fourth title there in South Florida.
He'll certainly be the favorite.