Djokovic Advances At Indian Wells, Kyrgios Crashes Out; Federer, Nadal Sunday


Novak Djokovic made a successful return to tennis Saturday at Indian Wells. The Serb hadn’t played on tour since capturing the Australian Open title in January, but got through a tough match against Bjorn Fratangelo 7-6(5), 6-2 to win his 50th career match in the desert.

Fratangelo served for the opening set at 5-4, but Djokovic broke and took the ensuing breaker.

“Credit to him. He played well and had nothing to lose. I thought his backhand was terrific, [he]was taking it on the rise,” Djokovic said. “The first set was just hanging on to the ropes and trying to win that set. Then the second set, obviously with the first set under my belt, was slightly better. I ended the match in a positive fashion.”

After the win, Djokovic had some fun with Pete Sampras who was making a rare appearance at a tennis event.

“I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I don’t get to see Pete that often. I was pleasantly surprised to see him watching my match. It’s a thrill, obviously, to see someone that I looked up to when I was a kid. I think I tried too hard in the first set to impress him,” Djokovic said. “It was really nice, and I went up to him and I thanked him for coming.”

An anticipated showdown between Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios fell apart when predictably the Australian went down to Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-4.

“He’s an incredible competitor,” said Kyrgios. “I didn’t play my best tennis today, but on certain points where I maybe had a little sniff or a little chance to get into the match, he came up with a really good shot to break me in the first set.

“He’s just tough. He knows how to win tennis matches.”

Third seed Alexander Zverev had a light day as Martin Klizan had to return down 6-3, 2-0 due to an ankle injury.

Forty-year-old Ivo Karlovic upended countryman Borna Coric. UCLA standout Marcus Giron stunned Alex De Minaur and Milos Raonic eliminated Sam Querrey.

Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon were also winners as was Dominic Thiem in a late-night victory over Jordan Thompson.

The big surprise on the day was 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime’s comprehensive win over an in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2.

The Canadian who was 3-0 in juniors against Tsitsipas was unfazed by the Greek or by the stage, picking his first career Top 10 win.

Tstisipas finished 0-7 on break chances.

Sunday will see the debut of former champions and fan favorites Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Also, John Isner, Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov are featured.