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Rediff.com  » Sports » Indian Wells: Kerber sails, Pospisil sends Murray packing

Indian Wells: Kerber sails, Pospisil sends Murray packing

March 12, 2017 16:24 IST

Angelique Kerber,

IMAGE:  : Angelique Kerber of Germany prepares to hit a forehand at Indian Wells. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

Angelique Kerber, who will reclaim the world number one ranking on Monday, breezed to a 6-2, 6-1 second-round victory over fellow German Andrea Petkovic at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

Second-seed Kerber broke Petkovic to open the match and needed only 58 minutes to claim the victory in glaring sunshine in the California desert.

"It was not so easy (playing Petkovic)," said Kerber after the match. "We’ve known each other forever. It's always tough to play against a friend."

Fourth seed Simona Halep also won emphatically, 6-4, 6-1 over Donna Vekic.

Halep, the 2015 champion, broke her Croatian opponent no fewer than seven times.

"My serve is not that big but I like to return. I’m really proud of it," Romanian Halep said.

"I’m not very powerful but I have a little bit the technique and the angles. I love this place. I have great results here."

While Kerber and Halep won in quick fashion, American 12th seed Venus Williams beat Serbian Jelena Jankovic in a dramatic battle between former world number ones.

Jankovic raced through the first set and seemed poised for an upset, but the second set tiebreak proved pivotal, as Williams survived, staving off three match points en route to a 1-6 7-6(5) 6-1 victory.

"It ain't over til' it's over, and I didn't see no fat lady singing," said Williams, who played with her left thigh heavily strapped.

Another American, ninth seed Madison Keys, made a winning return in her 2017 debut, triumphing 6-1, 7-5 over Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia.

Keys missed the Australian Open in January while recovering from wrist surgery.

"It felt really good," Keys said. "I really, really missed competing and being able to go out there and get a win on top of it was amazing."

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki also advanced, the 13th seeded Dane turning back qualifier Magda Linette of Poland 6-3, 6-0.

Pospisil sends Murray packing

World number one Andy Murray was sent packing from the second round after losing 6-4, 7-6(5) to Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil.

Pospisil delivered the knockout punch in style, whipping a crosscourt winner on his fourth match point in front of the near capacity crowd at Indian Wells that included former boxing champion Mike Tyson.

Pospisil, ranked 129th in the world, was rewarded for his aggressive approach, rushing the net whenever the opportunity arose and pouncing on Murray's second serve.

"I knew I was a long shot. I've played Andy four times and didn't win a set," the 26-year-old told Tennis Channel.

"I felt like I had the ability to (win) but to actually go through is a whole new thing. I tried to bring different tactics ... versus the other times I played him.

"I didn't want to give him the same look each time. I wanted to put pressure coming into the net, using my strength, which is my ability at the net and serving well."

Pospisil joked that his lowly current world ranking was due to a "mid-life crisis" that saw him endure a lean 2016, after he had made the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2015.

Earlier, Italian Fabi Fognini won a battle of expectant fathers when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4.

Unseeded Fognini survived a first-set tiebreak and a tense final set before upsetting the seventh-seeded Frenchman in a match that stretched nearly two hours and 30 minutes in the blazing afternoon sun.

"I am happy about my performance. It's a good victory for sure," Fognini told Tennis Channel after beating Tsonga for the first time in five career meetings.

"Today was really hot so the ball was bouncing a lot. I love playing with sun and good weather."

Fognini considered himself fortunate even to make it to the second round.

The Italian dropped the first set to love and was down 5-2 in the second set of his first-round encounter with Russian Konstantin Kravchuk, before roaring back to win 0-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"It is a crazy sport," Fognini said.

Fognini's wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, is expecting a child in late May, while Tsonga is also set to become a father next month.

In another upset on Saturday, Japanese world number 70 Yoshihito Nishioka beat Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-3, but seeds Dominic Thiem, David Goffin and Tomas Berdych won their matches to advance.

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