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Sports

March 14, 2017

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Djokovic, Federer and Nadal advance at Indian Wells

Djokovic, Federer and Nadal advance at Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, United States: Novak Djokovic launched his bid for a sixth ATP Indian Wells Masters crown with a two-set triumph over Kyle Edmund as the stars shone on Sunday in the California desert.

The 46th-ranked Edmund served for the second set at 5-3, but world number two Djokovic broke him en route to a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) triumph.

His reward is a tough third-round clash with former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 winner over fellow Argentine Federico del Bonis.

“I think I played very well in the first set,” Djokovic said. “Second set was obviously up and down. But credit to Kyle for playing some really aggressive tennis.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also reached the third round, Federer flying through with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over France’s Stephane Robert in just 51 minutes.

Nadal opened his account with a steady 6-3, 6-2 victory over Argentina’s Guido Pella.

The three stars are packed together in a remarkable bottom quarter of the draw.

“Very happy,” said Federer, who missed Indian Wells last year with a knee injury that required surgery. “Knee is a thing of the past, which is great. I don’t even have to think or talk about it.”

Nadal was pleased with a “solid” opening effort against Pella, made trickier by the oven-like mid-day temperatures and the fact that Pella, like Nadal, is a left-hander.

“I didn’t try to do amazing things. I tried to play solid,” the fifth-seeded Spaniard said. “For moments I played well. For moments I played a little bit less well. Important thing, I won, and I won in straight sets.”

Nadal knows he’ll have to turn up the intensity if he wants to end a hard court title drought stretching back to 2014.

The bottom half of the draw also features fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who eased past Britain’s Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.

But sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who beat Nishikori in the 2014 US Open final, was an early casualty, beaten 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 by 19-year-old American Taylor Fritz.

Meanwhile, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza survived a fierce challenge from US teenager Kayla Day to reach the fourth round of the WTA Indian Wells hard court tournament.

The seventh-seeded Spaniard had to dig in to subdue the hard-hitting Californian 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and set up a meeting with 10th seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.

Day, last year’s US Open junior champion, had reached the third round with an upset of Australian Open semi-finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

She needed little more than half an hour to seize a set from Muguruza, whose progress so far in 2017 has been hindered by injuries.

Muguruza saved break points in the fifth and 11th games of the second set, finally converting her own first break chance to force the third.

By then Day was wilting in the baking heat of Stadium Court. Muguruza broke her in the second game of the final set and again in the final game as the left-handed youngster surrendered with a double-fault.

Muguruza will face a dangerous challenge from Svitolina, a two-time winner on the WTA tour this year who took her winning streak to 15 matches with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australian Daria Gavrilova.

In other women’s matches on Sunday, third-seeded Karolina Pliskova, inserted at the top of the draw after Serena Williams’s late injury withdrawal, edged Romanian Irina Camelia Begu 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).

Pliskova next faces Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky, who beat Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (10/8) that produced multiple match points for both players.

Bacsinszky had her first chance to close it out with two match points in the second set.

Bertens had three match points as she served for the contest in the ninth game of the third — and she had a fourth match point in the tiebreaker before Bacsinszky finally sealed it on her sixth match point.

France’s Caroline Garcia rallied from a set down to defeat 11th-seeded Briton Johanna Konta 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) and book a meeting with eighth-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kuznetsova downed Italian Roberta Vinci 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

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