ATP roundup: Novak Djokovic escapes major upset at Indian Wells

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Serbian No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic warded off Australian Aleksandar Vukic’s upset bid to earn a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 win on Saturday in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.

After taking the second set, Vukic was up 2-1 in the third before Djokovic took control. He won the next three games and five of the final six, completing the comeback on his second match point.

For the match, Djokovic finished with 11 aces and saved four of six break points. Vukic tallied nine aces while saving eight of 13 break points.

It took 2 hours, 10 minutes for Djokovic to keep his title hopes alive at Indian Wells, where he is a five-time champion. However, he hadn’t played in the event since 2019.

“I connected with the crowd and everyone I haven’t seen in five years very quickly. A lot of people come to practice sessions, not just mine,” Djokovic said. “It’s amazing to see that much passion and respect and appreciation for tennis and tennis players.”

In the third round, Djokovic will face Italian lucky loser Luca Nardi, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Zhizhen Zhang.

Djokovic was one of many seeded players to advance on Saturday. That list included a pair of former champions in 12th-seeded American Taylor Fritz and No. 28 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain.

Fritz beat Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo 7-6 (2), 6-2, while Norrie ousted Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 6-4, 6-4. Norrie won the BNP Paribas Open in 2021, with Fritz prevailing a year later.

“I needed to play really well and protect my serve,” Fritz said Saturday. “(Tabilo has) been playing really well. … He’s a good player. It’s a good thing that I always feel confident coming out here.”

Other seeded winners Saturday included No. 7 Holger Rune of Denmark, 13th-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, French 14th seed Ugo Humbert, 19th seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina, No. 21 seed Adrian Mannarino of France, 26th-seeded Italian Lorenzo Musetti and the United States’ Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda, the No. 17 seed and the No. 29 seed, respectively.

Meanwhile, France’s Arthur Fils pulled off a 6-3, 6-4 upset of No. 23 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

Polish eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz was also tripped up by an unseeded foe, as France’s Gael Monfils earned a 6-0, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win.

To wrap up Saturday’s action, Norway’s Casper Ruud, the No. 9 seed, swept Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein 6-4, 7-6 (4), and Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev sunk Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, 6-2, 6-3.