INDIAN WELLS, March 10, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
The first of the second-round matches played on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open brought forth cheery exultations and dismayed exclamations. From Ivo Karlovic’s continued defiance of age to Prajnesh Gunneswaran flying the Indian tricolour high a couple of unexpected upsets, a lot was in store for fans catching up on the action in the Californian desert.
Without further ado, then, first things first.
Ivo Karlovic equalled Jimmy Connors as the oldest player to make it to the third round in Indian Wells. Earlier, after winning in the first round, the Croat had surpassed the legendary American in terms of his age to win a main draw match in an ATP Masters 1000. Karlovic downed fellow countryman and 11th seed Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6. His round-of-32 action, however, has a lot of significance – extending beyond his result alone. Here is why.
Karlovic’s next opponent is Gunneswaran – the lone Indian in the main draw – who upset 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in their second-round match. This has been undoubtedly Gunneswaran’s best performance in his career timeline. However, the left-hander is seeking to reach the pre-quarter-final and thereby equal compatriot and former Indian no. 1 Somdev Devvarman, who reached the fourth round in 2011. Considering that it has taken an Indian man – in 2018, Yuki Bhambri came close after reaching the third round – to come this far, the match-up between Karlovic and Gunneswaran is one for which Indian tennis fans do not want to be caught napping.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 10. März 2019
Moving along with this theme of upsets, the first upset of the day came about courtesy of Felix Auger-Aliassime at the expense of the newly-risen world no. 10 Stefanos Tsitsipas. Although it had been documented, the 18-year-old Canadian’s 3-0 lead in his head-to-head against Tsitsipas in the junior level ricocheted harder, stating anew that one-sided results in the juniors could well extend to the ATP Tour.
Lastly, one quirkily short result in the midst of this frenzy. Troubled by fever, third seed Alexander Zverev took to the court to open his Indian Wells campaign. However worrisome his form may have seemed to be, as it turned out, it was his opponent – Martin Klizan – who abruptly ended the match while trailing the German, 3-6, 0-2 with an ankle injury leaving him unable to continue. Zverev, now, gets a day and then some to rest and recuperate before meeting American qualifier Marcos Giron who, as it turned out, upset 13th seed Milos Raonic 7-6, 6-4.