Kohlschreiber stuns Djokovic; Osaka, Halep crash out of Indian Wells

tennis

Philipp Kohlschreiber reacts after winning his third round match against Novak Djokovic (unseen) on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

indian wells: Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber stunned Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday, claiming his first career win over a world No. 1 player to reach the fourth round of the ATP Indian Wells Masters.

Serbian superstar Djokovic was playing his first tournament since lifting a record seventh title in Melbourne, taking his tally of Grand Slam victories to 15.

He had won eight of nine prior meetings with Kohlschreiber, but could find no answer to the 39th-ranked veteran, who had come up empty in 11 prior attempts to beat a top-ranked rival.

“It’s a very special moment,” Kohlschreiber said. “Of course, playing the top guys is always a big pleasure, but most of the time they beat you.”

In match that resumed after rain stopped play just one game in on Monday night, Kohlschreiber said the warmer daytime conditions suited him better, and Djokovic agreed.

“I liked my chances more at night against Kohlschreiber,” Djokovic said. “Completely different conditions today: Ball bounces much higher.

“Obviously he uses his spin very well. I wasn’t playing well. One of those days,” added Djokovic, whose defeat came on a day the women’s draw lost it’s top two seeds -- world number one Naomi Osaka and number two Simona Halep.

“I congratulate him for playing tactically really well and getting me out of my comfort zone,” Djokovic said. “He deserved to win.”

After dropping the first set, Djokovic displayed his frustration by banging his racquet against his foot until it crumpled. The fit of pique did nothing to improve his fortunes as Kohlschreiber opened the second set with a break.

Two wayward forehands and a double fault from Djokovic helped Kohlschreiber to another break for a 5-2 lead.

Then it was Kohlschreiber’s turn to show some nerves as a string of four errors, including a double fault, gave Djokovic a break back.

He made no mistake on his second chance, however, firing a sideline-skimming forehand to seal the milestone win on his first match point.

Kohlschreiber will face France’s Gael Monfils for a place in the quarter-finals.

Osaka crashed out on Tuesday, routed by Belinda Bencic. Bencic, ranked 23rd in the world, defeated Osaka 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the prestigious WTA premier mandatory event, where Osaka won her first tour title last year.

That marked the start of a remarkable rise that included Osaka’s first Grand Slam title at the US Open. She followed that with an Australian Open crown that sent her to number one. But she never found her feet against Bencic, whose crisp groundstrokes and precise service game propelled her to victory in 66 minutes.

Bencic, who turned 22 on Sunday, is back on the rise after a string of injuries stalled a career that had exploded with two precocious WTA titles in 2015.

Bencic — who beat four top-10 players on the way to the title in Dubai last month, her first trophy in four years — next faces fifth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, who downed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (10/8), 4-6, 6-2. Romania’s Halep, the 2015 Indian Wells winner, fell to Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. World number two Nadal stayed on track to improve that number as he swept past Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 16.

Nadal took his record against the world No. 26 to 7-0 in emphatic style, never facing a break point in a match lasting an hour and 16 minutes.

Federer took his record to 22-3 over Wawrinka, a former world number three who is climbing back up the rankings in the wake of double knee surgery.

“I felt good from the beginning,” said Federer, who is coming off his 100th career title at Dubai last month.

Agence France-Presse