World No 1 Novak Djokovic survived a rocky start to defeat Grigour Dimitrov 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 on Tuesday and reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament.
Djokovic, unbeaten in a this year campaign that so far includes a fourth Australian Open title and an ATP triumph in Dubai, was on the ropes in the opening set against the 21-year-old Bulgarian, who raced to a 4-1 lead and served for the set at 5-3.
But Dimitrov served up four double faults in the ninth game and was broken, and that was the only opening that Djokovic needed.
The Serbian star battled back to win in 67 minutes. He raced to a 5-0 lead en route to winning the first-set tiebreaker and didn’t face a break point in the second frame.
Djokovic wrapped it up with a love game, sealing the victory with a service winner on match point.
“It was not really a beautiful match to watch,” Djokovic said. “There were a lot of unforced errors, and we both looked quite sluggish on the court, very slow.
“In these kind of matches, where both of us don’t feel so dynamic on the court, I knew that experience will kick in and can be decisive.
“That’s actually what happened. He made four double faults which is very unusual to see in men’s tennis nowadays, but, look, that’s tennis. Turned it around, and from then on I felt a little bit better.”
Djokovic improved to 15-0 this year and 20-0 since October 31 – when he lost to American Sam Querrey in the Paris Masters.
He’ll get a chance to avenge that defeat in a fourth-round meeting with Querrey, who edged Australian Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (7/9), 7-5.
Eighth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 17th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic set up a rematch of their record-breaking London Olympics clash, when Tsonga out-lasted Raonic 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 in the second round.
The 48-game final set was the longest single set in Olympic history, a record that takes into account all men’s and women’s matches in both singles and doubles.
Tsonga held off American Mardy Fish 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/0) while Raonic rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Croatian Marin Cilic.
In all, 12 men’s seeds were in third-round action on Tuesday, including world No. 3 Andy Murray.
Murray, playing his first tournament since losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open final in January, was due to take on Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun.
Lu stunned Murray in the first round at the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- a disappointment Murray made up for with his gold medal performance before adoring British fans at the London Games last year.
All of the top 10 women’s seeds were among the 16 players fighting for quarter-final berths, led by top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka and second-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova started slow but came on strong in a 7-5, 6-0 victory over 87th-ranked Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino.
Azarenka was due to take on Urszula Radwanska, sister of third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska who played Russian Maria Kirilenko.