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Djokovic Survives Fognini Fightback

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic overcame an unlikely fightback from Fabio Fognini.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was given an unexpected test in his BNP Paribas Open second-round match on Sunday. The Serb had won 10 of the first 11 games, before Fabio Fognini staged an unlikely fightback, forcing a third set before the Serb clinched victory 6-0, 5-7, 6-2. 

"Mentally I was there," said Djokovic. "Confidence level is high obviously because of the run I had this year. Game wise, everything works. I had a very bad game at 4-2, couple of unforced errors, got him back in the match. Next thing you know, we're one set all and a couple of tight games.

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"But look, I'm not concerned. I know I have been in this situation before where I had minor setbacks in a match, especially in the opening matches where I'm trying to get used to the court, the conditions, and so forth. He's a good player on this surface. He loves playing on slow surfaces. He made me work. He made me earn my points. In the end, I have done what I needed to do. The W is there, so I feel good about myself."

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Djokovic is unbeaten in 2013, compiling a 14-0 record with victories at the Australian Open (d. Murray) and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Berdych). He is bidding to win this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown for the third time after victories in 2008 (d. Fish) and 2011 (d. Nadal).

The 25-year-old Djokovic next will face Bulgarian No. 31 seed Grigor Dimitrov, who defeated Australia’s Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 in 67 minutes. Djokovic won their one previous meeting at the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

French No. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga advanced with a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over American wild card James Blake. The Frenchman rallied from 4-2 down in the first set and saved three set points in the tie-break before clinching the opener. After an exchange of breaks, Tsonga earned the decisive one in the fifth game and went on to secure victory in one hour and 43 minutes.

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Tsonga is coming off a first-round exit in Dubai (l. to Llodra), having won the Marseille title a week earlier (d. Berdych). He improved to a 10-3 match record on the season.

In a match featuring 20 aces, No. 23 seed Sam Querrey defeated qualifier Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4. “I felt really good,” said the American, a two-time semi-finalist this year on the ATP World Tour. “It's been a great start to the year. Even if I would have lost that I'd still be feeling good and feeling confident. 

“Ivo is a guy that win or lose you're not going to walk off the court feeling really good about your game. Having said that, I did feel good. I thought I returned well, and when we were in the points I thought I was hitting the ball through the court very well.”

Japanese No. 16 seed Kei Nishikori converted five of his seven break points to defeat Philipp Petzschner of Germany 6-3, 6-2. The 23-year-old Nishikori improved to a 12-3 match record on the season, highlighted by winning his second ATP World Tour title in Memphis (d. Lopez).

Former World No. 2 Tommy Haas reached the third round with a 6-3, 7-6(0) victory over Pablo Andujar of Spain. Haas hit eight aces and broke serve twice to prevail in one hour and 39 minutes. The 34 year old is coming off a semifinal showing in Delray Beach (l. to Gulbis) and reached the final last month in San Jose (l. to Raonic).

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