Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Federer opens Indian Wells title defense with 2-day win

Federer opens Indian Wells title defense with 2-day win

After both players spurned opportunities at the start of the decider, it was Daniel who made the first move by establishing a 4-1 advantage as Djokovic appeared to wilt in the Californian heat.

The biggest surprise of the day was the defeat of former world number one, Serbian Novak Djokovic, who returned to the tournament following his elbow operation, only to be defeated by Japanese Taro Daniel, ranked 109th in the world, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1.

Federer, who led by a set when play was halted due to rain at 2-2 on Saturday night, staved off a set point in a tiebreak to beat Delbonis 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

Djokovic had further surgery on a persistent elbow injury in February.

Federer will face 25th-seed Filip Krajinovic in the third round.

The 30-year-old took six months off after Wimbledon last year and then lost to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open fourth round in January before going under the knife in Switzerland shortly after.

"It feels insane. I mean, I'm still in shock", Anisimova said.

"Very weird - I just completely lost rhythm", Djokovic said.

Federer said he understands well how even a champion like Djokovic could be struggling to find his game so soon after having surgery.

"It is still early stages for Novak coming back and the first one after surgery. And even though you don't have pain, you are still thinking about it, because it has been something that I have been feeling and dragging for over two years", Djokovic said. "To me, it's not that surprising", Federer said.

The defeat marked just the fifth time in the past decade when Djokovic lost to a player outside the ATP top 100.

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro (6) defeated Australia's Alex De Minaur 6-2, 6-1 to set up a third-round match with Spain's David Ferrer (29), who beat American Tim Smyczek 6-2, 7-6 (3).

He extended his 2018 win streak to 13 matches and has only dropped three sets from 34 played this year.

Yet he failed to serve out the opening set at 5-3 before losing it in a tiebreaker.

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