Sock, who had crushed 28 forehand winners to be on the cusp of his first Top 10 win since 2017, had the match on his racquet serving at 5/4 in the third-set tie-break. But as happened in the first-set-tie-break, his lack of recent big-match experience told when the chips were down, and he made two unforced errors to let Tsitsipas back in, the Greek closing out the match 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(5).
”It was a crazy battle; we both left everything out there,” Tsitsipas said. “Jack played incredibly well at times but I was able to bring out the best in my game at the end. I proved I could play aggressive tennis and stay calm at the same time.”
Tsitsipas will next meet another American, the fast-rising Jenson Brooksby, who claimed an emphatic 6-0, 6-3 win over Olympic silver medallist Karen Khachanov. Former World No. 1 and Tennis Channel commentator Jim Courier says that such is Brooksby’s form, that the 21-year-old will start favourite against the World No. 5 Greek.
The fifth seed walked onto Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden more than 140 places higher that the American in the ATP Rankings. But Sock’s forehand, at its best, ranks second to none. The Greek had just one mission: keep the ball away from the American’s forehand at all costs. Easier said than done.
Sock crushed his forehand throughout the match and had his chances to take the first set tie-break before unforced errors brought him undone. He powered through the second set and then dug himself out of a 0/40 hole at 5-6 in the third set to fight off three match points to force a tie-break. But from a 5/4 lead in the ‘breaker, two unforced errors again cost the 29-year-old dearly.
In other results Saturday, Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner broke serve four times in a 6-3, 6-3 win over Serb Laslo Djere, but the former Intesa Sanpaolo NextGen ATP Finals champion will be looking to improve on serve ahead of his third-round meeting with Benjamin Bonzi. The 20-year-old put just 45 per cent of first serves into play as he improved to 12-2 on the season. Bonzi defeated Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-4.
Despite serving up nine double faults, World No. 13 Denis Shapovalov rallied from a set down to defeat Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to improve to 12-6 on the season. The Canadian saved 11 of 14 break points faced and next meets top-ranked American Reilly Opelka, who did not face a break point in his 6-1, 6-4 win over Italian Lorenzo Musetti.
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Defending champion Cameron Norrie recovered from an early break in the opening set to claim a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez. The Brit next plays Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who received a walkover from Italian Fabio Fognini (illness).
Gael Monfils set up a third-round meeting with World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev after firing 13 aces in a 6-3, 6-4 win over Serb Filip Krajinovic. The Frenchman dropped just three points on his first serve as he claimed his first win since the Australian Open.
Eighth seed Casper Ruud did not face a break point in his 7-6(5), 6-2 win over American qualifier Christopher Eubanks. The 23-year-old is playing Indian Wells for just the second time in his career, having fallen to Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round last October.