Indian Wells, United States – Novak Djokovic made it safely into the third round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters on Sunday, but said his straight-sets win over Victor Hanescu left room for improvement.
The world number two and second seed, a two-time winner in the California desert, saved all five break points he faced on the way to a 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 victory.
“It was one of those days where you get to serve well and everything else is just kind of trying to find the way to play the right shots at the right time,” said Djokovic, who notched his seventh win over the 87th-ranked Romanian in as many career meetings.
“I didn't make any returns in the first set. Second set I also struggled with the return, which is one of my better sides in the game generally speaking.”
Djokovic, who won the title here in 2008 and 2011, has played sparingly this season, falling in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka and losing in the semi-finals at Dubai to Federer.
He didn't get a break chance in the opening set, but dominated the tiebreaker and took a quick 3-0 lead in the second. He said he'd be working on a few things before his third-round match against Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez, a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) winner over Croatian Ivan Dodig.
Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain bounced fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Bautista, ranked 53rd in the world, used a punishing ground game to notch his third career win over a top-10 player.
“I played unbelievable,” Bautista said. “I was not serving very well, I had to play my best tennis from the baseline to win the match.”
Berdych, an Australian Open semi-finalist who lifted the trophy in Rotterdam this year, arrived in California off a runner-up finish to Roger Federer in Dubai.
The 28-year-old Czech was at a loss to explain his off-key outing.
“Anything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong,” he said. “Definitely my worst match that I had this year.”
Men's sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro had been slated to open his campaign, but the Argentinian withdrew with a left wrist injury.
In other second-round matches, Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun defeated German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-2, who delivered six aces and won 84 percent of his first service points to seal the victory in 68 minutes.
Lu earned a rematch with John Isner, who kept the American flag flying in the men's field with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 victory over former world number three Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.
Isner edged Lu in two tiebreak sets in the final at Auckland in January.
Since winning the title in Auckland Isner has been slowed by an ankle injury. He was happy with a contest that included 15 aces.
Second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland led the way into the women's fourth round of the $12 million combined WTA and ATP Masters tournament.
Radwanska, ranked third in the world, thumped 48th-ranked German Annika Beck 6-0, 6-0.
Beck did what she could to make a stand, notably in the fourth game of the second set which went to deuce seven times, but she was unable to get on the scoreboard in a match that lasted just 67
Radwanska next faces France's Alize Cornet, who battled for three hours and 26 minutes to beat 14th-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-3.
It was the second-longest match of the year on the WTA Tour, after Maria Sharapova's three-hour, 28-minute win over Karin Knapp at the Australian Open.
Cornet fought off triple match point serving 4-5, 0-40 in the second set en route to the victory.
“I don't know how I won this match,” Cornet said, who added that fatigue may have worked in her favor in the third set.
“The good thing when you are tired is you don't ask too many questions, you just hit the ball,” she said. “That's better for me.” – Sapa-AFP