Novak Djokovic’s path to a third Indian Wells title got that much easier on Sunday when fellow Top seeds Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all were eliminated from the bottom half of the draw.
Del Potro was the first causality withdrawing earlier in the day due to continued problems with his left wrist.
Later, Tomas Berdych, who had won 11 of his last 12 matches, fell to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets in what the Czech called one his worst matches of the season.
“He was a tough opponentβ¦ [and] really handled the tough situation today really well,” said Berdych of Agut who had beaten Berdych before.”βAnything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong. It [was] definitely my worst match that I had this year. I was late everywhere. I was not hitting the ball cleanly and that’s it.”
Tsonga followed by losing meekly to countryman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4. Tsonga has now lost three of his last four matches.
Djokovic capped the night pulling away from Victor Hanescu 7-6, 6-2 to run his record to 7-0 against the Romanian. The 2-time Indian Wells champion is seeking his first title of the season.
Other second round men’s winners included another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, Fernando Verdasco, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov and John Isner who defeated Nikolay Davydenko 7-6, 6-3 to keep America alive in the tournament.
“It was a very good start,” said Isner. “I was happy with how I played. I felt my intentions were good out there. I played well. I created a lot of opportunities for myself on return and that’s really all I can ask for.
“So as far as that goes, I’m very happy. Could have been a little bit cleaner, but all in all I thought I played well. I served extremely well, stayed aggressive for the most part. Happy to be through. These conditions are very good for me.”
In the women’s field, Agnieszka Radwanska posted a double bagel win over Annika Beck to advance to the fourth round.
Former champion Caroline Wozniacki went the distance to turn away Slava Shvedova 7-6, 3-6, 6-1.
“Playing her is always tricky, especially here because the ball bounces so high – her serves were bouncing way over my head and I had a really tough time getting into the rhythm at the start of the match,” Wozniacki said. “I managed to fight through and win that first set. I’m not sure how, I guess my running really got me through that. And then I started playing some pretty good tennis in the third.
“But before the third set it was really just a battle and a scramble.”
Rising stars Simon Halep and Genie Bouchard also won they’ll now meet in a terrific fourth round match on Tuesday.
“Every time I go on the court I think I can win,” said Australian Open semifinalist Bouchard. “I’m happy with what I did today and I’m just going to look forward to my next match and another Top 10 player. I’m really excited.
“[Halep’s] definitely improved a lot. I think she’s a really good, solid player. I’m excited to play her. I’m looking forward to playing against her game.”
On a loaded Monday schedule, Grand Slam champions Roger Federer (v Tursunov), Rafael Nadal (v Dolgopolov), Li Na, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic (v Stephens) are in action, and that’s just on the main Stadium 1 court. On Stadium 2 it’s Andy Murray (v Vesely), Stanislas Wawrinka (v Seppi) and Petra Kvitova (v Kuznetsova).
Also on Stadium 2 is a showdown between two of the ATP’s biggest drama queens, Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini.
SCHEDULE – MONDAY, 10 MARCH 2014
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
WTA –  N Li (CHN) vs K Pliskova (CZE)
ATP –  D Tursunov (RUS) vs  R Federer (SUI)
Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA –  M Sharapova (RUS) vs [Q] C Giorgi (ITA)
ATP –  R Nadal (ESP) vs  A Dolgopolov (UKR)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA –  A Ivanovic (SRB) vs  S Stephens (USA)
Not Before 8:30 pm
ATP –  T Haas (GER) vs  K Nishikori (JPN)
STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am
ATP – J Vesely (CZE) vs  A Murray (GBR)
ATP –  G Monfils (FRA) vs  F Fognini (ITA)
ATP –  S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  A Seppi (ITA)
WTA –  S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs  P Kvitova (CZE)
Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA –  D Cibulkova (SVK) vs  E Makarova (RUS)
ATP – R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) vs E Gulbis (LAT) / M Raonic (CAN)
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