Monday, October 11, 2021 - Daniil Medvedev and Filip Krajinovic play a Round 3 match in Stadium 1 on day 8 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Abbie Parr/BNP Paribas Open)
Top seed Daniil Medvedev eased past No. 27 seed Filip Krajinovic in a chilly BNP Paribas Open night session on Monday, bringing focus from start to finish to advance in a 6-2, 7-6(1) decision.
After the night’s opening clash between Paula Badosa and Coco Gauff (won by Badosa 6-2, 6-2) was delayed by roughly 90 minutes due to a surprise rain storm in the Palm Desert, Medvedev and Krajinovic took to the court around 9:00 p.m. local time.
In no mood to make his night last any longer than needed, Medvedev sprinted out to an early lead, capitalizing on the slow conditions to frustrate Krajinovic, who struggled to hit through the nimble, 6-foot-6 Russian.
Claiming the first set 6-2, Medvedev secured another early break in the second set after a delicate drop shot floated over the net out of his Serbian opponent’s reach in a stunning 38-shot rally. Undeterred by the reigning US Open champion’s early advantage, however, Krajinovic manufactured break points in the following game and out-duelled Medvedev from the baseline to break right back and level the set.
The remainder of the second was a tight, high-quality affair, with changes in momentum and the World No. 34 hanging tough against the World No. 2’s unassailable baseline defence. In the tiebreak, however, Medvedev raised his level – as champions do – and finished off the match after one hour and 30 minutes.
Up next: Grigor Dimitrov.
Earlier in the day, Diego Schwartzman fought through to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in his career following an impressive come-from-behind win over Great Britain’s Daniel Evans, reeling off 10 games in a row from 2-4 down in the second set to score victory on Monday afternoon.
In a rematch of their heated clash earlier this year at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Schwartzman was the first to strike in pristine Stadium 1 conditions at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Untroubled by Evans’ slice and brave forays into the net, the Argentine broke in the fourth game and quickly found himself up 5-2 after consolidating the break twice.
From there, however, Evans dug deep, raising his level as the No. 11 seed attempted to serve for the set and breaking to 15. After the Briton consolidated for 5-5, Schwartzman fended off four break points, but was unable to save a fifth, handing Evans his fourth consecutive game in a row.
Galvanized by his improved level and the string of games won, the No. 18 seed served the first set out to love and continued his momentum in the second set, securing an early break and finding himself two holds away from the fourth round.
This time, it was Schwartzman’s turn to catch fire. The Buenos Aires native, small in stature at 5-foot-6 but not lacking in firepower whatsoever, burned Evans at the net as the 31-year-old began charging forward in desperation. Perhaps Schwartzman’s second-round survival against serve-and-volley specialist Maxime Cressy was the perfect practice for facing a player like Evans, as he broke back in a rally complete with several powerful groundstrokes and capped off with a feathered volley at the net.
He wouldn’t lose another game from there, reeling off eight more in quick succession before closing out the match in two hours, 19 minutes.
Through to his maiden round of 16 appearance in Indian Wells, Schwartzman will face No. 6 seed Casper Ruud for a place in the quarterfinals.
Ruud was the second men’s winner of the day with a gritty three-set win over Lloyd Harris in which he saved 8 of 8 break points to prevail after nearly three hours of tense tennis.
The mild-tempered Norweigan has been one of the form players this season, winning a tour-leading five titles, all coming at the ATP 250 level. Standing in the way of his quest for a sixth (and biggest) title this year was No. 26-seeded Harris, who is in the midst of his own breakthrough year after reaching a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open last month.
With both players benefitting from the conditions at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden – Harris the thin air for his blistering serve, Ruud the high & slow bounces for his forehand – it was a high-quality affair on Stadium three with a few key points making the difference.
Ruud, with his greater experience and laurels at the Masters 1000 events, was the one to capitalize on the break points he had, recovering from losing the first set to edge Harris in sets two and three.
The World No. 10 is one win away from his fifth 1000-level quarter-final of 2021. The rise of Ruud continues.