Novak Djokovic bounced back after an extremely shaky start of the round of 16 encounter with 24th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic to make it to the quarter-finals and set his sights on completing a treble of BNP Paribas Open trophies. The World no. 2 suffered a torrid time in the first set as he was outplayed by his opponent who broke twice before serving out the opener within twenty-seven minutes. Nevertheless, a sudden twist in the plot occurred in the set number two as the rivals exchanged their roles with Novak making it all square after securing the second break. With the momentum on his side the Serb champion raced to a 3-0 advantage in the decider and ultimately landed his quarter-final spot thanks to flawless serving performance in the final set. He celebrated a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory which will see him face Julien Bennetau next.
“I believed that I could come back,” claimed Djokovic. “The second set was a whole new story. I reset myself and told myself it was the start of the match. I forgot about the first set and the second and third went really well. It was the intensity I want to have and I hope to keep it up.”
Fifth seed Andy Murray, who ended runner-up in 2009, did not get past the fourth round in Indian Wells this year as he was eliminated by tenth seed Milos Raonic who came back after a set down. The big-serving Canadian struck 15 aces and won 83% of first serve rallies over the course of the two hours and ten minutes long clash on Stadium 1. The British number one converted first as he broke to love in the ninth game of the opener and served out the set in the same fashion. Similarly, the outcome of the second set would be decided right at the end with the Olympic champion giving away a service game just before the potential tie-break. The spectators witnessed some dramatic twists and turns in the subsequent decider as Raonic suffered a loss of serve in the third game before producing a four straight games run and putting the match to bed after a love hold. He advanced by winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash against Aleksandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine who shocked Rafael Nadal earlier this week.
“Today, I was just really disappointed with how the last 15 minutes of the match went,” said Murray. “That was really, really poor. Acapulco was the same. My matches have been a little bit patchy over the past few weeks.”
The 2012 finalist John Isner has also joined the Indian Wells title race – the home crowd favorite prevailed in a three-setter against Fernando Verdasco of Spain, seed number thirty. The twelfth-seeded US player won 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3 and will meet Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the round of 8.