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Bautista Agut Upsets Berdych, Lu Sets Isner Rematch

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Bautista Agut© Getty ImagesRoberto Bautista Agut improved to 3-6 lifetime against the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Roberto Bautista Agut recorded the third Top 10 win of his career on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open when the World No. 53 defeated fourth seed Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round. He will next face the unseeded Jarkko Nieminen.

It was the Czech's first loss in an opening match of a ATP World Tour Masters 1000 since falling to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Montreal first round in 2009.

Bautista Agut dictated play with his forehand and came within one point of leading 4-1 in the deciding set before Berdych battled back, only to be broken for the fifth time in the match at 4-4. Bautista Agut had led 4-2 in the first set, before Berdych won four straight games. The pair’s third FedEx ATP Head2Head clash lasted two hours and 23 minutes.

Bautista Agut, who is now 3-6 lifetime against the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, also beat Juan Martin del Potro in the Australian Open second round two months ago. Berdych, who reached the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final last week, dropped to a 16-4 match record on the season that includes his eighth ATP World Tour title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Cilic).

“He was a tough opponent… [and] really handled the tough situation today really well,” said Berdych. “Anything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong. It [was] definitely my worst match that I had this year. I was late everywhere. I was not hitting the ball cleanly and that's it.”

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Nieminen advanced after 26th seed Florian Mayer of Germany retired with a leg injury 6-2, 1-0.

In other action, Philipp Kohlschreiber dropped his second straight match since reaching the 300-win plateau in tour-level matches, 6-2, 6-2 to Yen-hsun Lu. The diminutive Taiwanese fired six aces, winning 84 per cent of his first service points for the win in just 68 minutes.

Lu, who reached the third round in Indian Wells last year (l. to Murray) as well, sets a re-match with home favourite John Isner for a berth in the Round of 16. Isner edged past Lu in a pair of tie-breaks in the Auckland final in January.

The American, runner-up at the opening ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year in 2012, surged into the third round behind a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko.

The 12th seed hammered 15 aces and did not face a break point. The win prevents the U.S. from not having a representative in the Indian Wells third round for the first time ever.

"It was a very good start," said Isner. "I was happy with how I played. I felt my intentions were good out there. I played well. I created a lot of opportunities for myself on return and that's really all I can ask for.
So as far as that goes, I'm very happy. Could have been a little bit cleaner, but all in all I thought I played well. I served extremely well, stayed aggressive for the most part. Happy to be through. These conditions are very good for me."

Ernests Gulbis continued his push towards a second consecutive Indian Wells fourth round after routing Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour. The Latvian, who lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in a thrilling battle in last year's Round of 16, fired 10 aces and won 100 per cent (25/25) of first serve points for the victory.

Eighth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet won all eight games in his second-round opener when Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili retired due to illness after 34 minutes. Gasquet will next play Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, the No. 30 seed, who defeated Argentine Horacio Zeballos 7-5, 7-5. Gasquet and Verdasco have split their previous 12 meetings.

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Lionel Maltese


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