Djokovic, Nishikori reach 3rd round at Indian Wells


By Greg Heakes

Djokovic needed just 59 minutes to oust the former Australian Open finalist Baghdatis who at one time was considered one of the most dangerous players on the ATP Tour.Indian Wells (United States) (AFP) – World number one Novak Djokovic kicked started his bid for a fourth Indian Wells title by beating Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 6-3 in the second round of the WTA and ATP tournament.

But defending champ Djokovic had his game in order Saturday, blasting six aces, winning 83 percent of his first serves and breaking Baghdatis four times.

He came into the tournament as the top seed and reigning Australian Open winner, his eighth career major.

“From the beginning it went well for me,” Djokovic said. “A solid performance from the baseline.

“I thought that I served well and didn’t give Marcos many chances to come back in the match.”

Djokovic advanced to the third round where he will square off against Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

Djokovic is gunning for the 50th singles title of his career which would make him the 12th player in the Open Era to reach that milestone.

Djokovic won the first set in just 26 minutes, winning three straight games to close it out.

Baghdatis won the first game of the second set but he couldn’t handle Djokovic’s precision serving and superior groundstrokes.

“Great performance against a quality opponent, somebody that was a former top 10 player and knows how to play on the big stage,” Djokovic said.

The 29-year-old Baghdatis, known for having played one of the greatest matches ever at the US Open against Andre Agassi in 2006, was done in by his sub-par serving, winning just four points on his second serve.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the highest ranked Asian player in ATP Tour history, opened his campaign with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ryan Harrison.

The US Open runner-up broke Harrison five times to reach the third round.

“There were so many ups and downs in the first set. I broke him many times and that was the key for today’s match,” Nishikori said.

The 25-year-old Nishikori, who is ranked fifth in the world, next faces Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

Nishikori came into Indian Wells having won last month in Memphis after reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

He also reached the finals in Acapulco and has made it to the quarters in all four of his tournaments this year.

Nishikori beat Harrison in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Memphis in their only other career meeting last month. Saturday’s contest was equally entertaining.

Nishikori secured a break to open the second set and then clinched the victory on his second match point when Harrison hit a shot long.

“Luckily I got the first break, so it was easier mentally to hit a lot of good shots,” said Nishikori, who was ranked as high as fourth in the world earlier this month.

– Strong start for Murray –

Andy Murray needed just 80 minutes to dispatch Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-3.

The Scot broke Pospisil five times to claim his 13th win of the season.

The fourth seeded Scot had lost twice previously in his opening Indian Wells match in 2011 and 2012, but had little trouble taking care of Pospisil.

Reigning US Open champ Marin Cilic crashed out, losing his first match of 2015 6-4, 6-4 to Juan Monaco.

Cilic, who is ranked 10th in the world, has been sidelined with a right shoulder injury.

On the women’s side, Flavia Pennetta opened the defence of her WTA title by beating American Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-2.

Second seed Maria Sharapova rolled over Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 7-5, fifth seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-1 and fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki eased past Ons Jabeur 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

The Sharapova win sets up a mouth-watering match with former champion Victoria Azarenka, who advanced to the third round by beating Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-4 earlier in the day.

Both Sharapova and Azarenka are former world number ones and former Indian Wells champions.

The early marquee clash was made possible by Azarenka’s drop in ranking, due to a foot problem that has bothered her for the past year.

It will be the 14th meeting between the two Grand Slam champions, with Azarenka holding a 7-6 edge. Sharapova won their last contest at the 2013 French Open semi-finals.

“I think it will be a good challenge for both of us,” Sharapova said. “We have had some really good matches in the past, even though we haven’t played against each other in a while.”

Sharapova, who is seeking to become the first three-time women’s champion at Indian Wells, lost to Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open in January.

In the night match, sixth seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard dominated Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-2 in just 57 minutes.

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Original Article: Djokovic, Nishikori reach 3rd round at Indian Wells