NOVAK DJOKOVIC defeated
, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, to win his fourth BNP Paribas Open yesterday in Indian Wells, Calif., tying him with Federer for the most titles in the desert after winning for the second straight year.
The world's top two men's players met for the 38th time, second-most among rivalries in the Open era. Federer leads the series, 20-18, and had won three of their last four meetings going into the final.
But Federer made too many mistakes at crucial times, piling up 43 unforced errors to 35 for Djokovic. The Serb connected on 63 percent of his first serves, while Federer's serve let him down. He double-faulted to trail 4-2 in the third as Djokovic won the last four games of the match.
Federer's serve had carried him earlier in the tournament, when he faced just three break points in his first five matches and he saved two of those.
"I was trying to really focus a lot on my serve because it was very important because he returns so well off the second serve," Federer said. "He really plays everybody really tough when he returns off the second serve, and I think that's what also was tough today against him."
Djokovic also won in three sets last year. He and Federer have combined to win eight of the last 11 titles in the desert, and they became the first two players to reach the final in consecutive years since the tournament began 40 years ago.
Simona Halep beat Jelena Jankovic, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, in the women's final, giving the Romanian the biggest title of her career and a WTA Tour-leading third tournament victory of the year. Serena Williams withdrew before the semifinals with a sprained knee.
Djokovic and Halep earned $900,400 each.
* Matt Every won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla., for the second straight year, making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Bay Hill to beat Henrik Stenson and earn a trip back to the Masters. Every came from three shots behind with a 6-under 66.
* Marco Dawson won the Tucson (Ariz.) Conquistadores Classic by two strokes for his first Champions Tour title after breaking a tie with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th hole.
* Hyo Joo Kim birdied five of the last eight holes to beat Stacy Lewis by three strokes at Desert Ridge in the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix.
* Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu returned to Los Angeles for further medical evaluation of discomfort in his left shoulder. The No. 3 starter left camp to see team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache after playing catch in routine drills. Ryu underwent an injection of cortisone on Wednesday. The setback jeopardizes Ryu's chances to be ready for the start of the season, with manager Don Mattingly calling it "very unlikely."
* Yankees prospect Jose Pirela sustained a concussion after crashing into the centerfield wall on Juan Lagares' inside-the-park home run, the first of three homers off CC Sabathia, and the New York Mets beat their crosstown rivals, 6-0, behind a dominant effort from Matt Harvey in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
* Heather Richardson clinched the women's overall speedskating World Cup title at the last meet of the season in Erfurt, Germany.
* Austrian racer Anna Fenninger withstood a strong challenge from rival Tina Maze to successfully defend her overall World Cup and giant slalom titles after winning the season-ending GS race on in Meribel, France.
Also at Meribel, Austria's Marcel Hirscher celebrated his fourth straight World Cup overall title with a commanding win in a slalom race in the final race at the season-ending finals in Meribel, France.
* Manchester United director David Gill is set to be elected a FIFA vice president this week on a mission to be part of an "awkward squad" trying to expose any wrongdoing at the scandal-tainted governing body.