By BETH HARRIS
2014-03-16 06:22 AM
INDIAN WELLS, California (AP) -- Roger Federer beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open, a title the former top-ranked player has won four times.
Federer was coolly efficient on a hot day in the desert, firing seven aces and connecting on 72 percent of his first serves in the match that lasted barely an hour.
"Having the fire and wanting to win every single match and in the practice trying to improve as much as you can, I've got the good balance right now, so it's very encouraging," Federer said.
Novak Djokovic played American John Isner in the late semifinal.
No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska will play Flavia Pennetta in the women's final on Sunday.
Federer will try to win his second title of the year in the men's final. He's coming off a victory two weeks ago at Dubai, and his 19-2 match record this year is his best start since he began 23-2 two years ago. He won at Indian Wells from 2004-06 and again in 2012.
A year ago at Indian Wells, Federer injured his back during a match and took nearly a month to feel better. After Wimbledon, he re-injured his back and found himself questioning everything, leading to an uneven year for the sport's once dominant player.
Back in the desert once again, Federer feels like a new man.
"I'm just playing more freely overall and with more confidence because I can get to more balls without thinking," he said. "I can wake up in the morning without feeling sore. I can go to bed not feeling like I hope I feel better tomorrow. I don't have these thoughts going through my mind and I'm not worried every single minute of the day."
Ranked 28th, Dolgopolov was in the semifinals of an ATP Tour Masters 1000 event for the first time. He upset defending champion and top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the third round.
Dolgopolov expressed support for his homeland on the eve of a referendum on whether Crimea, which belongs to Ukraine, should seek annexation by Russia.
"Of course, it's not nice, it's not calm now in the country, but hopefully it will get past and we're going to be safe and living there fine," he said.