A two-time Grand Slam singles finalist (Kevin Anderson), two players who have upset Novak Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Open (Taro Daniel and Philipp Kohlschreiber), and tennis’ own Iron Man (Feliciano Lopez, who recently competed in his record 79th straight major) were just a few of the names featured in the men’s qualifying draw, which swung into action on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Kohlschreiber, who stunned Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4, en route to the Round of 16 in 2019, battled back from a set down to defeat Aussie Alex Bolt, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The German converted four of eight break-point opportunities in the one-hour, 51-minute victory. Japan’s Daniel, a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1 winner of Djokovic in 2018, outhit American Emilio Nava, 7-5, 7-5, while Lopez fell to American Christopher Eubanks, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Australian Christopher O’Connell ousted South Africa’s Anderson, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
It’s been some year for Thanasi Kokkinakis. The snakebit Australian, who’s been hit with injury after injury since making his pro debut in 2013 (think shoulder surgery, pectoral strains, abdominal woes, ankle setbacks, etc.) is finally healthy and once again climbing in the rankings. In January, the 25-year-old captured his first ATP singles title, fittingly, in his hometown of Adelaide. Then he joined countryman Nick Kyrgios for a feel-good run at the Australian Open doubles crown, a major title-holder at last.
Now ranked No. 97, Kokkinakis is gunning for a return to the main draw in Indian Wells, where in 2015 he reached the Round of 16. He took his first step in that direction on Tuesday, smacking 11 aces and winning 81 percent (34 of 42) for his first-serve points in ousting Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, 6-3, 6-4.
Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, who took out No. 1 ranked Andy Murray in the second round in 2017, opened his qualifying tournament with a three-set, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Egor Gerasimov.
Former Top-40 performer Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, now ranked No.154, was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Italy’s Andreas Seppi in one hour and 36 minutes in Stadium 4. Elsewhere, Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Frenchman Hugo Grenier, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
Forced to sit out Colombia’s recent Davis Cup matchup against the U.S. due to a shoulder injury, 103rd-ranked Daniel Elahi Galan returned to the court to dismiss Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan, 6-4, 7-5.
Also advancing were: Chech Tomas Machac (def. Radu Albot, 6-4, 7-5), Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic (def. Salvatore Caruso, 6-2, 6-2), China’s Juncheng Shang (def. Francisco Cerundolo, 7-6(4), 6-4), Ukraine’s Ilya Marchenko (def. Marco Cecchinato, 6-1, 6-2), Spain’s Jaume Munar (def. Bruno Kuzuhara, 6-1, 6-4), American Denis Kudla (def. Chun-hsin Tseng, 6-1, 6-4), and American J.J. Wolf (def. Emilio Gomez, 6-1, 6-3).