Indian Wells second round action continues Saturday in the California desert as top-half seeds enter the fray. Scroll down for the rundown on all the ATP singles action from across the grounds at the BNP Paribas Open…
Rising American Ben Shelton offered his best booming serves on Saturday in front of a rapt audience on Stadium 1, but defending champ Taylor Fritz took every punch Shelton threw and landed a few late haymakers to send the 20-year-old sensation packing, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“It’s amazing, coming back” Fritz told the appreciative crowd after his win. “It’s such an amazing feeling, just to hear the crowd.”
The former NCAA champion certainly made Fritz work for the win.
Shelton’s gigantic serve topped out at 147, and he hit his spots with regularity in the early going, keeping Fritz at bay for much of the first two sets.
But the No.4 seed never lost belief as he matched Shelton stroke-for-stroke in a tense second set. He bided his time and took his opportunity in the final point of the second set, converting his first break point of the match to take the set, 6-4, and force a decider.
“I expected him to come out serving bombs, playing well,” Fritz said. “I think I was ready for it, I just had to regroup, just find a way and problem solve – he’s an incredible player and it was an extremely tough first match to come out and play so I’m happy to get through it.”
Momentum firmly in hand, the Southern California native pounced again in the third set, breaking for 4-2, and never looked back as he finished off his victory in one hour and 52 minutes, clinching his seventh consecutive BNP Paribas Open win and a spot in the third round.
Fritz will face either Rinky Hijikata or Sebastian Baez in the third round.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 12, 2023
It’s was a solid start for 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday night. The Spaniard wowed the spirited crowd inside Stadium 1 as he hammered past Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-3, 6-3, in the final match of the night session. A semifinalist in the California desert last year, top-seeded Alcaraz will square off with Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands in the third round.
A packed Stadium 3 was treated to a generational battle on Saturday afternoon as 21-year-old Jannik Sinner, who figures to play a prominent role in the future of men’s tennis, faced 36-year-old battle-worn veteran Richard Gasquet.
It was the Frenchman who made the early advance, registering the first break of the contest, but Sinner soon took control of the first-time meeting and eventually inched over the finish line in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(2).
Sinner sizzles into R3 🙌
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 11, 2023
“Obviously it was a tough match today, especially in the beginning I was a little bit tight,” Sinner said on court after a match that saw him crack a jaw-dropping 20 forehand winners.
Sinner was not even four years old when legendary Gasquet logged his maiden ATP win way back in 2005 at Monte-Carlo, but the Italian is now a fixture on tour. The No.11 seed is making his third appearance at the BNP Paribas Open; Gasquet, unseeded and ranked 43rd, drops to 16-13 in his thirteen career appearances at Indian Wells.
In other early action 21-year-old Jack Draper hammered past 24th-seeded compatriot Dan Evans, 6-4, 6-2 on Stadium 5. The hard-serving southpaw has dropped just eight games through two rounds on his BNP Paribas debut.
No.10-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime also found his way into the third round, edging Spain’s Pedro Martinez, 7-6(5), 6-4. The 22-year-old Canadian, is into the third round for the first time since 2019 – he has never been deeper.