Sunday’s play at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 was dominated by the long-awaited appearance of Novak Djokovic making his comeback to the ATP Tour and the completion of Roger Federer’s rain interrupted match.
Though most of the crowd packed into the tennis complex had come to see the former World No. 1 on his comeback following right elbow surgery, it was the 25-year-old Taro Daniel from Japan, ranked 109, who stole the show by upsetting the 10th seeded Serbian, 7-6(3) 4-6 6-1.
Getting through qualifying made me a bit more confident, which gave me the belief . . . to get through the tougher moments, even against someone like Djokovic Taro Daniel
“I can’t believe I beat someone like (Djokovic) on center court like this, it’s pretty crazy,” Daniel, a qualifier, said.
The opening two sets were strongly contested with Daniel revealing he believed Djokovic was tiring in the third.
“I think I came out playing a little more aggressive than the other two sets and that made him keep making more mistakes. Because he obviously wasn’t playing his best tennis, so I was able to take advantage of that,” Daniel, who had eliminated Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the previous round, explained.
“Getting through qualifying made me a bit more confident, which gave me the belief . . . to get through the tougher moments, even against someone like Djokovic,” he said.
His third-round opponent is Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, who had been scheduled to play Kei Nishikori in the second round before the world No. 25 withdrew through illness. Mayer beat Nishikori’s replacement Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 6-4 6-1.
Nishikori, who returned to competition in January after a five-month injury layoff, apologized for his withdrawal in a Twitter post on Sunday.
“I have been sick for over a week and tried everything I could to get better. Unfortunately, today I am still not strong enough,” he wrote.
Meanwhile Fderer completed his match against Federico Delbonis to secure his place in the third round.
The match resumed with Federer leading 6-3 2-2 when rain interrupted play and was called off for the day.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner eventually wrapped it all up 6-3 7-6(6) after saving a set point in the tie-breaker, completing the win after 101-minutes.
“It is interesting, when you go from night to day and you know there is a difference,” the top seed said. “So naturally it’s all a change. Here now you play the same guy the next day, so you can really compare how different conditions are. It was actually quite interesting.”
He will be looking to take his unbeaten run in 2018 to 14 matches when he faces Filip Krajinovic next.
The second seed Marin Cilic also secured his place in the third round as he saw off Marton Fucsovics 7-5 6-3. He will face Philipp Kohlschreiber following the German’s 1-6 6-4 6-4 win over Tim Smyczek.
Juan Martin del Potro proved too strong for Australian teenager Alex de Minaur who lasted just one hour before capitulating 6-2 6-1.
The Argentine will face David Ferrer next after the Spanish veteran beat Tennys Sandgren 6-2 7-6(3).
Former Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-4 6-4 victory over fellow Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime while Marcos Baghdatis upset 14th seed Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-4.
The 15th seed John Isner was downed by Gael Monfils 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 7-5 in what was a gruelling contest.
Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev lost the late-night game against Joao Sousa, going down 7-5 5-7 6-4 after two-hours and 23-minutes.
And British hopes were extinguished when Kyle Edmund, seeded 21, lost out t the Lucky Loser Dudi Sela of Israel, 6-4 6-4.