Five-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer thwarted a second-set challenge from Peter Gojowczyk to reach the third round of the ATP Masters event on Sunday with a 6-1, 7-5 victory.
Fourth-seeded Federer, like top seeded Novak Djokovic gunning for a sixth ATP Indian Wells Masters crown, said he was relieved not to go to a second-set tiebreaker after falling behind 3-1 to the free-swinging German who is ranked 85th in the world.
The Swiss regained the break and, after saving four break points to make it 4-4, he broke Gojowczyk for a 6-5 lead, the German double-faulting on break point to give Federer a chance to serve it out.
“The second set I think he saved some crucial break points with good serving. I think his serve really picked up. I struggled a little bit with my serving in that second set and that gave him chances. Because he was serving better he started to swing more freely and then it was tough. I’m really happy I found a way in that second set.”
Federer next faces compatriot Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion currently unseeded as he continues his return from injury.
Wawrinka won a taut thriller against 29th-seeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, finally sealing it on his fifth match point after three hours and 24 minutes when Fucsovics lofted a lob long.
World number two Rafael Nadal steamed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over American Jared Donaldson.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who owns three Indian Wells titles, needed just 72 minutes to get past world number 192 Donaldson, who returned to the tour in February after six months sidelined by a knee injury.
The Spanish star is playing his third tournament of a year that opened with a runner-up finish to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.
He next faces Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Spain’s Roberto Carbralles.
“Today was a very positive step for me, and the next one is going to be against a player that we know each other very well – we practiced a lot of times, and we played some tough matches,” Nadal said.
“It’s going to be a tough one against Diego,” he added, calling Schwartzman “one of the best talents of the sport today.”
Meanwhile, sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori went the distance with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory over France’s Adrian Mannarino.
Mannarino, ranked 52nd in the world, served for the match at 6-5 in the third but never mustered a match point.
He double-faulted on the third break point of the game and that was enough of a window for Nishikori, who is back in the California desert after missing last year’s tournament because of illness.
That was part of a slow start to 2018 as Nishikori returned from a wrist injury, but he’s up to seventh in the world after opening 2019 with a title in Brisbane in January.
He reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open but retired against eventual champion Novak Djokovic with a quadriceps strain. Nishikori has since reached the Rotterdam semi-finals, but was bundled out of the second round in Dubai last month.
He was pleased to prevail after being pushed by Mannarino.
“He made me play one or two extra balls many, many times,” Nishikori said. “There were moments I could have played better but he was playing good tennis. I think in the tiebreak I played best tennis of the match, I was really focused.”
Nishikori next faces 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who defeated France’s Lucas Pouille, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Eighth-seeded American John Isner routed Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin, 6-0, 6-2, the most lopsided win of Isner’s career.
He’ll play Guido Pella, who won his first title at Sao Paulo last week. Pella ended the hopes of another Aussie qualifier, Alex Bolt, 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3.
Tenth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic downed Serbian Dusan Lajovic, 6-3, 6-4 to book a meeting with 19-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the 24th seed who beat American Steve Johnson, 6-3, 6-4.
Kei Nishikori (JPN x6) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4)
Denis Shapovalov (CAN x24) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-3, 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x10) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3, 6-4
Radu Albot (MDA) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x16) 6-0, 7-6 (7/4)
Kyle Edmund (GBR x22) bt Nicolás Jarry (CHI) 6-2, 6-0
Roger Federer (SUI x4) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-1, 7-5
John Isner (USA x8) bt Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-0, 6-2
Guido Pella (ARG x32) bt Alex Bolt (AUS) 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3
Andrey Rublev (RUS) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Daniil Medvedev (RUS x14) bt Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 7-5, 6-0
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) bt David Goffin (BEL x20) 6-3, 6-3
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x25) bt Roberto Carballés (ESP) 6-3, 6-1
With AFP inputs
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