INDIAN WELLS, March 12, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
The underdogs did their best to prove a point on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells even though the expected favourites made it through to the next round.
Two cases in point: The first was the 217th-ranked Marcos Giron giving Milos Raonic a tough fight, even taking a 4-1 lead in the deciding set, before the 13th seed upped the ante and broke the American qualifier’s resilience to pull through 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Giron’s efforts also saw him claim much fame but those, who knew about him – as the 2014 NCAA champion – it was yet another demonstration of what he could do. Additionally, the win also helped to put in perspective what the 25-year-old – and men’s tennis – had missed out, in his lengthy injury-enforced time-out.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 11. März 2019
“I knew he could play really well. I think I created a lot of chances and a few maybe I didn’t take the way I would have liked. But he also stepped up well on his chances,” Raonic was quoted on the ATP Tour website. “He came up with the goods and definitely pushed me sort of to the brink there where I was getting a little bit frustrated. I just kept trying to plug away.”
The second was Felix Auger-Aliassime equalising the third set at 5-5 after being down 1-5 and facing three match points in his match against Yoshihito Nishioka. However, despite his initial difficulties in closing out the match, Nishioka finally crossed the threshold into the fourth round, winning 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(5).
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 12. März 2019
“It’s very tough to play in that situation,” Nishioka was quoted on the ATP Tour website. “[I was] feeling very mad when he came back because I had a chance to win already, three match points. But he saved them with really good shots… I just tried my best and I found a way, finally.”
Speaking of, the Japanese’s fourth round clash is an interesting match-up. He will face Miomir Kecmanovic who incidentally defied the aforementioned theme of underdogs coming up short with a win over countryman and 30th seed Laslo Djere. Quirkily, the younger Serbian gained an entry into the main draw as a lucky loser after losing his final round of qualifying to none other than, Giron.
Lastly, yet another qualifier’s hopes were dashed on the day. Ivo Karlovic rounded off a straight sets 6-3, 7-6(3) win over India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran, leaving both the player and his fans with mixed feelings about the result. Still, all has not been lost as the 29-year-old will attain a new career high of 82 in the men’s singles rankings.