Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - Philipp Kohlschreiber plays Novak Djokovic in the 4th round of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Novak Djokovic’s pursuit of a record sixth BNP Paribas Open title came to a screeching halt on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Facing 35-year-old German Philipp Kohlschreiber — against whom he was a lopsided 8-1 in career head-to-heads — the top-seeded Serb was dismissed in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in one hour, 38 minutes.
Djokovic, 31, had defeated Kohlschreiber on three occasions on these same hard courts, but a fourth straight victory was not to be.
Into the Round of 16 for the second consecutive year, the upset specialist notched his 24th win over a Top-10 player. However, it was the lefthander’s first over a world No. 1.
“It’s a very special moment,” the No. 39-ranked Kohlschreiber told the stunned Stadium 1 crowd. “Playing the top guys is a pleasure, but most of the time they beat you. It’s an incredible win for me. I mixed up the pace a lot. Tactic-wise, I played a clever match, I was aggressive with the forehand. Novak struggled a little bit, too. You always need the No. 1 not to play his best to beat him.”
Djokovic was just 1-for-5 on break-point opportunities in the rain-delayed match, which began on Monday night. Kohlschreiber, meanwhile, converted three of his four chances.
“That’s what you put all your hard work into,” added Kohlschreiber, who reached a career-high No. 16 in 2012.
Asked by on-court emcee Andrew Krasny what such an accomplishment meant to him at his age, the 18-year tour veteran shot back, “What do you mean this age? I’m just starting my career.”
For the second year in a row, Djokovic finds himself bounced from the draw early. Last year, making his return from shoulder surgery, he was upset by unseeded qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan in the second round, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1.
There are more challenges ahead for Kohlschreiber, who scalped 31st seed Nick Kyrgios in the second round. He moves on to face Frenchman Gael Monfils, against whom he’s 2-13. Is another upset in the cards?