Indian Wells: Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray — all had to work much harder than expected to book their places in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, here, on Sunday.
Top seed Djokovic lost his bearings in the second set before beating Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 while Murray had to dig himself out of an early hole on the way to a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win against Russian Evgeny Donskoy. In the women’s draw, former champion Maria Sharapova survived a tough battle with Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, winning 7-5, 6-3 to book her place in the fourth round.
Djokovic, a perfect 14-0 this year after winning the Australian Open in January and the Dubai Championships last week, will next meet Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, a 6-4, 6-4 winner against Australia’s Matthew Ebden.
US Open champion Murray lost a wildly fluctuating opening set where he trailed 1-5 at one point, before seizing control of the match. In blazing desert sunshine at Indian Wells, the 25-year-old Scotsman broke Donskoy’s serve twice in the second set and also in the third before sealing victory after two hours 17 minutes.
Sharapova, seeded second at the elite WTA event, broke the Navarro twice in a closely contested first set that featured several lengthy baseline rallies and lasted almost an hour.
In other matches, American Mardy Fish made a triumphant return to the ATP Tour after being sidelined since last year’s US Open because of a heart condition, battling past compatriot Bobby Reynolds 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Eighth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat American wildcard James Blake 7-6, 6-4, Nicolas Almagro swept past fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 6-1 and Germany’s Tommy Haas beat Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-3, 7-6.
In other matches of the women’s draw, Czech Klara Zakopalova overcame Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 7-5 and Russian Maria Kirilenko scraped past American qualifier Mallory Burdette 6-3 4-6 6-2.