Roger Federer had to work hard but got through Steve Johnson in two tiebreakers 7-6(3), 7-6(4). With no breaks of serve in the match — just 4 break chances held by Federer — it was the Swiss who capitalized in both breakers over the American.
The win sets up the much-anticipated fourth round against Rafael Nadal. Earlier, Nadal won his 16th match over countryman Fernando Verdasco with a 6-3, 7-5 victory.
“I played a good match, no? Very aggressive with my serve, serving well, hitting good forehands, good backhands,” Nadal said. “Very happy. I think I played much better today than the first day.”
Nadal leads Federer 23-12 splitting both meetings at Indian Wells. But Federer’s won the last two at Basel 2015 and recently in the Australian Open final. Both spoke about facing each other.
“I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season,” Federer said. “So regardless of Australia, winning or losing, I’m going to try to go out there and try to play free again. I think it’s really important.
“I’m really happy that I got my energy back, because in Dubai I was actually still quite tired. I feel like tomorrow if I move well I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.”
Added Nadal: “He has the talent to do very difficult things that look easy. He’s able to take the ball very early. Serve and first shot, he creates a lot of winners with that, the two first shots.”
Also Wednesday, Novak Djokovic continues to reprise his Acapulco run. Djokovic beat Juan Martin del Potro in three sets 7-5, 4-6, 6-1. Djokovic was down an early break in the first before getting back to level then break the Argentine again to secure the set.
After dropping the second, the Serb rolled in the second winning the last five games in what Djokovic said was the best set he’s played all year.
“There’s always a lot at stake when you play a quality player like Delpo is,” said Djokovic. “He’s a big match player. I knew coming into the match it was going to be very important for me to be fired up and bring that intensity to the court in order to bring my A-game. That’s what was required for me to win that match.
“The third set was the best tennis I’ve played this year. To be able to break him two times in a set was great. I hope I can carry this confidence level, especially on the return, into tomorrow’s match because I’m going to need it. I lost to Nick in Acapulco and he was serving extremely well. I’m hoping I can get a better result.”
Djokovic, who has won 19 straight at Indian Wells, now gets a shot at revenge against Nick Kyrgios who beat the World No. 2 in straight sets at Acapulco.
Kyrgios overwhelmed teen Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in a much-hyped first-time NextGen meeting.
“I thought I just competed well. It was always going to be a tough match. He’s been playing great tennis and on the rise ever since juniors. I knew it was going to be tough,” Kyrgios said. “He’s got a big game. I was happy with my performance.”
Kei Nishikori cruised past Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-2. He’ll face Donald Young who scored one of his better wins holding on to beat Lucas Pouille on his 7th match point 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
“At the end, to fight through quite a bit of nerves, that’s always great as well. You’ve got to keep putting yourself in those positions and, when you come through them, it gives you even more confidence,” Young said.
And in minor upset, Jack Sock socked it to Grigor Dimitrov saving 4 match points in the third to win it 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7). Dimitrov led by a break in the third and then had three match points at 4-5, 0-40 on Sock’s serve but was unable to finish the job.
Sock will now meet Malek Jaziri who ended the hopes of American teen Taylor Fritz in three sets.
With all eight fourth round men’s match scheduled for Wednesday, Gael Monfils also meets Dominic Thiem in the evening, Stan Wawrinka battles lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka and 2016 semifinalist David Goffin faces Pablo Cuevas.
Djokovic and Kyrgios will also be in doubles action on Wednesday. So it will be a busy day for both.
INDIAN WELLS WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
ATP – D. Young (USA) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA –  A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs  S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP –  N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs  J. del Potro (ARG) or  N. Djokovic (SRB)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP –  R. Nadal (ESP) vs  S. Johnson (USA) or  R. Federer (SUI)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA –  Ka. Pliskova (CZE) vs  E. Svitolina (UKR) or  G. Muguruza (ESP)
Not Before 8:30 pm
ATP –  G. Monfils (FRA) vs  D. Thiem (AUT)
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