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Djokovic recovers to advance at Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, California (AFP) –

Novak Djokovic serves against Grigor Dimitrov at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 12, 2013

Novak Djokovic serves against Grigor Dimitrov at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 12, 2013. The world No. 1 survived a rocky start to defeat Dimitrov 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic survived a rocky start to defeat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 and reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament.

Djokovic, unbeaten in a 2013 campaign that so far includes a fourth Australian Open title and an ATP triumph in Dubai, was on the ropes in the opening set against the 21-year-old Bulgarian, who raced to a 4-1 lead and served for the set at 5-3.

But Dimitrov served up four double faults in the ninth game and was broken, and that was the only opening that Djokovic needed.

The Serbian star battled back to win in 67 minutes. He raced to a 5-0 lead en route to winning the first-set tiebreaker and didn’t face a break point in the second frame.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates victory over Mardy Fish at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 12, 2013

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates victory over Mardy Fish at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 12, 2013. Tsonga held off the American Fish 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/0).

Djokovic wrapped it up with a love game, sealing the victory with a service winner on match point.

“It was not really a beautiful match to watch,” Djokovic said. “There were a lot of unforced errors, and we both looked quite sluggish on the court, very slow.

“In these kind of matches, where both of us don’t feel so dynamic on the court, I knew that experience will kick in and can be decisive.

“That’s actually what happened. He made four double faults which is very unusual to see in men’s tennis nowadays, but, look, that’s tennis. Turned it around, and from then on I felt a little bit better.”

Djokovic improved to 15-0 in 2013 and 20-0 since October 31 — when he lost to American Sam Querrey in the Paris Masters.

He’ll get a chance to avenge that defeat in a fourth-round meeting with Querrey, who edged Australian Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (7/9), 7-5.

Maria Sharapova hits a backhand return at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 12, 2013

Maria Sharapova hits a backhand return against Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 12, 2013. Sharapova started slow but came on strong in a 7-5, 6-0 victory.

Eighth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 17th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic set up a rematch of their record-breaking London Olympics clash, when Tsonga out-lasted Raonic 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 in the second round.

The 48-game final set was the longest single set in Olympic history, a record that takes into account all men’s and women’s matches in both singles and doubles.

Tsonga held off American Mardy Fish 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/0) while Raonic rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Croatian Marin Cilic.

In all, 12 men’s seeds were in third-round action on Tuesday, including world No. 3 Andy Murray.

World No. 3 Andy Murray, playing his first tournament since losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open final in January, got past tenacious Taiwanese Lu Yen-Hsun 6-3, 6-2.

Lu stunned Murray in the first round at the 2008 Beijing Olympics — a disappointment Murray made up for with his gold medal performance before adoring British fans at the London Games last year.

Murray gained a 3-2 lead in the opening set with a break in the fifth game, but he was under pressure on his serve and had to fend off five break points in the opening frame.

Two of those came in the eighth game, but he finished it off with two aces to lead 5-3 and broke Lu a second time to pocket the set.

“I didn’t serve particularly well to get myself into those situations, and then I served well to get myself out of some tough situations,” Murray said.

The Scot next faces Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Germany’s Tommy Haas saved a match point en route to a 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/2) victory over Spain’s Nicolas Almagro.

His reward is a fourth-round match against seventh-seeded Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, who beat German Bjorn Phau 6-2, 7-5.

Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka and second-seeded Maria Sharapova led the way into the women’s quarter-finals of this combined ATP Masters and WTA event.

Azarenka shook off a sore ankle to beat Urszula Radwanska 6-3, 6-1 and Sharapova stepped up her game in the second set to beat 87th-ranked Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino 7-5, 6-0.

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