World No. 2 Novak Djokovic battled past Victor Hanescu to reach the third round of the BNP Paribas Open. His next task in his quest for a third title in Indian Wells is Alejandro Gonzalez, whom he has never encountered previously on the professional tour. Gonzalez, who is making his ATP Masters 1000 debut this week, will have have to defeat the second seed if he is to continue his strong week in California.
The top ranked Serb dispatched of Victor Hanescu in straight sets but it was not as easy as the scoreline makes it seem. Djokovic was unable to earn a single break point opportunity in the opening set, while simultaneously needing to defend five break points on his serve, including two set points for the Romanian. The fomrer No. 1 followed with a clean performance in the tiebreak, losing only one point. Djokovic then took advantage of a poor service game from Hanescu at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead and would break again to close the match.
World No. 91 Alejandro Gonzalez reached the third round in Indian Wells by upsetting the 31st seed Ivan Dodig. He a competitive third set tiebreak to secure the victory, but eventually earned the 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) in two hours and 17 minutes. The Colombian had saved four match points in a first round win over Adrian Mannarino for his first tour-level victory.
This is the first time these two athletes will meet on the ATP tour. Djokovic will hold a significant edge in all departments, yet Gonzalez can certainly frustrate him at times if he employs a “nothing to lose” approach. He has proven to be resilient and patient in his Masters 1000 debut, yet it is unlikely to be enough to overcome the two-time champion.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets