Tennis

Djokovic faces dangerous del Potro

Novak Djokovic launched his bid for a sixth ATP Indian Wells Masters crown with a two-set triumph over Kyle Edmund, as the stars shone in the California desert yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 46th-ranked Edmund served for the second set at 5-3, but world No. 2 Djokovic broke him en route to a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) triumph.

His reward is a tough third-round clash with former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 winner over fellow Argentinian Federico Delbonis.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also reached the third round, Federer flying through with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over France's Stephane Robert in just 51 minutes.

Nadal opened his account with a steady 6-3, 6-2 victory over Argentina's Guido Pella.

REMARKABLE DRAW

The three stars are packed together in a remarkable bottom quarter of the draw.

Djokovic said that he can't afford to think about a possible quarter-final clash with either of his longtime rivals with del Potro coming up.

While Djokovic has won 12 of their 16 career meetings, the Argentinian handed him a crushing defeat in the first round of the Rio Olympics - a loss Djokovic avenged in Acapulco this month.

"Big guy, big serve, big forehand," Djokovic said of del Potro.

"Definitely not the draw that you like, but it is what it is," added the Serb, who is trying to get back into the winner's circle after a shock second-round exit at the Australian Open and a quarter-final loss to Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco.

The bottom half of the draw also features fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who eased past Britain's Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4 yesterday.

But sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who beat Nishikori in the 2014 US Open final, was an early casualty, beaten 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 by 19-year-old American Taylor Fritz. - AFP

tennisnovak djokovic