Novak Djokovic overcame blustery conditions and an opening set loss to rally and beat American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
The 22-year-old Fratangelo who just won his first tour-level match on Friday, came out free-swinging breaking the error-prone 2-time defending champion twice in the opening set. But Djokovic found his form winning 12 of the last 15 games to claim his 12th straight match win at Indian Wells.
“He came out with a good game plan,” said Djokovic who was down 0-4 early. “I started awful.
“I think the fifth game in the third was the deciding one,” Djokovic said. “That break obviously meant that I can start to feel a bit more comfortable.”
Djokovic will face Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday after the German lost just one game to Denis Kudla.
Three-time winner Rafael Nadal followed and also had his own issues with the wind and lefty Gilles Muller. Nadal cruised in the opener but then was broken three times in the second. He saved multiple break points (11 of 14 for the match) in the seventh game of the third before breaking the 32-year-old Muller to take the match 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
“Very tough conditions out there,” Nadal said. “Very happy for the victory after last three matches that I lost have been in three sets or five sets. So I needed a victory like this. Very happy for that. Very happy about the attitude during the whole match. Have been very tough to play with that conditions and against a player who serve very well and who goes to the net. It’s obvious these conditions help the player who normally plays less from the baseline, no?
“So just was a great victory for me. I’m very happy for that.”
After ending a 3-match losing streak in deciding sets, Nadal will get a rematch with Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco came through when the hot-handed Martin Klizan retired in the second set with a ankle injury.
Americans John Isner, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock also prevailed as did 18-year-old Alexander Zverev who bounced the struggling Grigor Dimitrov.
“I tried to stay as calm as I could,” Zverev said. “Grigor played well for an hour or so, from the middle of the second set until the middle of the third. He didn’t give me many chances, but I knew I would get my opportunities. And I used them well.
“Grigor is such a good player. He has so much potential to really do well,” he added. “We will see [this matchup] a lot in the future.”
Gilles Simon is next for Zverev. Isner will play Adrian Mannarino, Sock gets Dominic Thiem in a juicy third round.
Kei Nishikori also scored a quiet 6-3, 6-3 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin.
“I thought it was pretty good match,” said Nishikori who has never made it beyond the fourth round. “It’s not easy for me playing first match of the tournament always. But I felt good rhythm there. It’s always a little bit windy, especially on stadium. It doesn’t look like windy, but it is. I feel a lot of windy on the court.
“So not expecting perfect match. But it’s not easy match against Kukushkin. He hits flat. Not easy to hit hard with his balls. I stayed patient, and I thought it was pretty good match.”
On Monday, Andy Murray along with Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet return. In two of the better match-ups, Tomas Berdych battles Borna Coric and Milos Raonic locks up with Bernard Tomic.
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