(March 13, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Top seed Novak Djokovic survived 22-year-old American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo, ranked No. 149 in the world 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, while Rafael Nadal was extended by Gilles Muller 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to advance to the third round on Sunday.
Fratangelo, who was the 2011 French Open Junior champion, jumped out to 4-0 lead over Djokovic to a stunned crowd. The American held serve the rest of the way to close out the first set easily. Djokovic regained his composure and control of the match after that.
“All credit to Bjorn on playing a great match, but I wasn’t feeling comfortable at all on the court,” Djokovic said on-court after the match. “I was just trying to find a way, trying to hang in there and make it through.”
“Well, I must admit that he has played really good tennis, especially in the first set,” the Serb said in press. “He came out with a good game plan, knowing what to do.
“I started awful. Haven’t played really great except second set. Other than that, just finding a way to win.
“Today is one of those days where you don’t feel the ball well. You know, swirly conditions, and just being tough. Trying to win with experience and with, you know, toughness in the clutch moments. That’s what helped me to prevail.”
“I didn’t know much about him, obviously,” he said. “Again, it’s not an excuse for coming out and playing the way I played in opening set. You know, I just was very low intensity. Legs were not there.
“But, you know, I managed to regroup in the second. I felt the third started well and that I played a loose game to get him the break back and got him back in the match.
“You know, I think the fifth game of the third was the deciding one. That break obviously meant that I can start to feel a bit more comfortable, play a little bit maybe more aggressive on the court. All in all, it was just not a great performance.
“But, as I said, you know, you have to deal with it, accept it. A win is a win. Hopefully the next one will be better.”
Djokovic is now 17-1 for the year and has a 12-match win streak in Indian Wells. He is the two-time defending champion.
Nadal had to deal with windy conditions in his win on Sunday night.
“Yes, very tough conditions out there,” he said. “Very happy for the victory after last three matches that I lost have been in three sets or five sets. So I needed a victory like this. Very happy for that.
“Very happy about the attitude during the whole match. Have been very tough to play with that conditions and against a player who serve very well and who goes to the net. It’s obvious these conditions help the player who normally plays less from the baseline, no?
“So just was a great victory for me. I’m very happy for that.”
Nadal was asked about the former French sports minister’s comments accusing him of faking an injury to cover up doping.
Nadal said: “Well, the first thing that I can say is thanks very much everybody from the world of sport, and for sure everybody who did the comments supporting me, because have been really tough for me, you know.
“I have been working so much since I have five years old, all my career, to have the success that I had, and always with the right way, always practicing with passion, with intensity, with love for the game.
“There is a couple of times I heard comments like this, and that’s what — this gonna be the last one, because I gonna sue her. I am tired about these things. I let it go a few times in the past. Not more, you know.
“I know how tough I worked to be here. To listen, to heard those comments from a person that should be serious, because was minister of a big country and a great country like France.
“So I gonna sue her, and I gonna sue everyone who gonna comment something similar in the future, because I am tired of that.
No. 5 Kei Nishikori moved into the third round beating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-3.
“I thought it was pretty good match,” said the world No. 5.” You know, not easy for me playing first match of the tournament always. But, yeah, I felt good rhythm there. It’s always a little bit windy, especially on stadium. It don’t look like windy, but it is. I feel a lot of windy on the court.
“So, you know, not expecting perfect match. But, you know, it’s not easy match against Kukushkin. You know, he hits flat. Not easy to hit hard with his balls. I stayed patient, and I thought it was pretty good match.”
Seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7) advanced with 7-5, 6-1 win over Vincent Millot.
Eleventh seed Dominic Thiem defeated Jozef Kovalik7-6(4), 7-6(3).
Upsets on the men’s side included 19th seed Benoit Paire, and 23rd seed Grigor Dimitrov fell to 18-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany.
The German teen came back from a break in the third set to stun Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
Asked about the pressure he faced in the third set, the teen said: “I try to stay as calm as I can. Grigor played well for an hour or so, middle of the second set till middle of the third. He didn’t give me many chances, but I knew I would get my opportunities. And, you know, I used them well.
“Yeah, I’m just happy to be in the third round here.”
Four American men advanced. John Isner hit 23 aces in his win over Andreas Seppi 7-6, 6-4. Jack Sock the 21st seed and the 30th Steve Johnson reached the round of thirty-two. Sam Querrey the 31st seed defeated Thiemo de Bakker 7-6(5), 6-4.
Two withdrawals on Sunday – Mikhail Youzhny in the singles and Nick Kyrgios in doubles. Kyrgios was paired up with Alexander Zverev.