Indian Wells Masters: Roger Federer wins rain-delayed match, Novak Djokovic stunned in comeback
Two of the biggest ATP stars had contrasting fortunes at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on Sunday as the top seed Roger Federer entered the third round but five-time champion Novak Djokovic crashed out in his first match of his comeback.
Rain barred Federer from completing the first match of his title defence at the season’s opening ATP Masters 1000 tournament on Saturday. He was leading the 67th ranked Federico Delbonis 6-3, 2-2 when play was suspended.
The numero uno player returned to the court on Sunday to close out a 6-3, 7-6(6) win, that helped extend his 2018 winning streak to 13 matches. Federer thundered 5 aces past the Argentine and converted the only break point that he got, while saving all three of the break points that he faced.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion next takes on the 25th seed Filip Krajinovic for a spot in the pre-quarter-finals.
Unforced errors cost Djokovic dearly
Novak Djokovic’s return from an elbow surgery did not live to see more than a day as the former World No. 1 fell 6-7(3), 6-4, 1-6 to the 109th ranked Taro Daniel of Japan. The 12-time Major winner was beaten in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January after his elbow troubles had kept him out of action since the 2017 Wimbledon Championships.
The Serb decided to go for another surgical procedure in an attempt to fully heal from the injury. While he targeted a comeback at the Madrid Masters in May, his quick recovery encouraged him to play at Indian Wells.
But the decision backfired as he peppered the court with 61 unforced errors and totally faded away in the third set in the second round clash that lasted 2 hours 30 minutes.
“It felt like first match I ever played on the tour,” a despondent Djokovic told the press after his loss.
“Very weird. I completely lost rhythm,” admitted the Serb.
In some of the other matches of the day, second seed and Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic edged a tight first set and then raced through the second for a 7-5, 6-3 win over Marton Fucsovics. Sixth seed and Acapulco champion Juan Martin del Potro ran away a 6-2, 6-1 winner over the 19-year-old Alex de Minaur of Australia.
This was the former US Open champion’s sixth win in a row.
Fourth seeded Alexander Zverev’s woes continue as he was edged 5-7, 7-5, 4-6 by the 85th ranked Joao Sousa. The German star produced 14 aces, but conceding two breaks in the final set was what brought about his downfall.
In three tournaments prior to the Indian Wells Masters, he has reached the semi-finals only once.
Gael Monfils beat the 15th seed John Isner 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 7-5; Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat the 24th seed Gilles Muller 6-3, 7-5 and Dudi Sela prevailed over the 21st seed Kyle Edmund 6-4, 6-4.
Eighth seed Jack Sock, 18th seed Sam Querrey, 32nd seed Milos Raonic all progressed into the third round. Ninth seed Lucas Pouille was beaten by Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri.
Kvitova’s winning streak comes to an end
With two titles at St Petersburg and Doha and a 14-match winning streak, World No. 9 Petra Kvitova was one of the biggest contenders for the women’s title. But 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova, the reigning junior US Open champion, put paid to her hopes as she sent the two-time Wimbledon winner packing with a stunning 6-2, 6-4 win in the third round.
The fact that the young American had never won a WTA-level match until this week validates how much fearless and confident she was while facing one of the most in-form players on the WTA Tour.
Meanwhile, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka’s comeback was short-lived as she fell 1-6, 5-7 to the 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Round 2. 10th seed and Australian Open semi-finalist Angelique Kerber fought back rain and a set loss to register a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Ekaterina Makarova.
Top seed Simona Halep survived a scare before beating the 165th ranked Caroline Dolehide 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2. Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova too needed three sets to reach the fourth round but the French Open titlist Jelena Ostapenko bowed out.