Australia’s Jordan Thompson is into R3 at a Masters 1000 event for the third time in his career, after holding his nerve against a compromised Stefanos Tsitsipas, winning in a deciding set tiebreak. Elsewhere, Japan’s Taro Daniel added another impressive win to his ever-increasing resume against top players after Olympic champion Belinda Bencic was bested on her Indian Wells debut.
Thompson prevails in gripping Tsitsipas tussle
Thompson bt. Tsitsipas  7-6 (7-0), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5)
Six years after his first, Australia’s Jordan Thompson secured his second top-10 win after edging past no. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a deciding set tiebreak to progress into the third round of this year’s Indian Wells.
Tsitsipas, who hadn’t featured since losing in the last-16 against eventual runner-up Jannik Sinner back at Rotterdam last month, has been recently struggling with a shoulder issue that disrupted his ball-striking rhythm.
He opted for a series of slice shots and was often seen winced between points, against a 28-year-old who quickly found his groove on serve and didn’t show any signs of slowing, even after being broken early in set two.
Having played a poor tiebreaker and losing it without logging a single point on the scoreboard, Tsitsipas’ reaction was predictably an assertive one: typified by his exquisite lob return winner to earn the break at 2-1.
The deciding set followed the pattern of set one, Thompson saving a break point in the opening game but besides that, both acquitted themselves well on pressure points to hold their serves.
The crowd were firmly behind the world no. 3, a runner-up at Thompson’s home Major in January, and you could be forgiven for thinking he’d run away with another clutch win – despite not playing his best – surging towards the finish.
He reeled off six consecutive points from 5-6 down, serving to stay in the match. He led 2-0 and later 4-3 in the breaker, but was punished for some good misses – aggressive would-be winning groundstrokes that narrowly veered out.
Thompson’s celebration of relief said it all.
Despite recording 41 winners and 18 unforced errors (Tsitsipas had 38 and 36 respectively), he very nearly lost against a formidable opponent who was clearly hampered. That’s how good you have to be, against the world’s best.
“This is one of my favourite tournaments, an incredible win and I’m really happy. Wanted to take control of my service points, stay aggressive and very thankful the last ball went wide.
I didn’t look forward [to prospective opponents] in the draw… Gael Monfils and then Stefanos Tsitspas, guess we’ll find out soon.”
He’ll play Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo for a place in the last-16 on Sunday, after the 25-year-old showed nerves of steel to emerge unscathed over two tiebreaks against his agemate in American 32nd seed Maxime Cressy 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (15-13).
Having already beaten JJ Wolf and world no. 4 Casper Ruud in Acapulco this month, as well as getting through three-set qualifying battles, Taro Daniel backed up his 6-1, 7-5 win over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena with another three-set scalp today.
This time it came against 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini  – 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 6-3, responding assertively after a bagel set to lead 3-0 in the decider.
His reward is a compelling clash against a familiar face in Britain’s no. 1 Cameron Norrie , who he beat at this very event five years ago, and leads the H2H 2-0.
Norrie won 6-2, 6-4 vs. 24-year-old Taiwanese qualifier Tung-Lin Wu, who beat a pair of talented youngsters to reach the main draw before ousting Alexander Bublik too.
Andy Murray was looking forward to a first-ever meeting against perennial top-20 player Pablo Carreno Busta, but that will have to wait a little longer.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, seeded 15th at this event, withdrew overnight for undisclosed reasons with fans assuming he’s injured after seeing him train yesterday.
He’ll be replaced in the draw by lucky loser Radu Albot, who lost in the final qualifying round against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Struff is into R2, and plays Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul later today.
In an all-Swiss clash, Jil Teichmann rallied from a set down to score her first top-10 win of the campaign against Belinda Bencic: 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two-and-a-half hours.
Bencic served poorly (56% first serve, four double faults) but this was a match of fine margins (90-84 Teichmann in total points won) and especially during a rollercoaster deciding set, with multiple lengthy service games by both.
Up next for the 25-year-old is a meeting against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson, who ousted Austin Open champion Marta Kostyuk in R1 and subsequently benefited from an injury-enforced retirement up 3-0 in set one against China’s Shuai Zhang.
Other notable results include…
Karen Khachanov  bt. Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-3
Daniil Medvedev  bt. Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 6-3
Ugo Humbert bt. Denis Shapovalov  7-5, 6-4
Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe with straight-set wins
Maria Sakkari  bt. Shelby Rogers 2-6, 6-4, 6-0
Jelena Ostapenko  bt. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
Anhelina Kalinina  bt. Linda Fruhvirtova 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Aus Open champ Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff both comfortable winners elsewhere
Picture source: Getty Images