Thompson topples Tsitsipas to reach Indian Wells third round

He admitted he felt a little lucky when a stinging forehand from Tsitsipas

March 11, 2023
Thompson´s coolness under pressure paid off — AFP 

INDIAN WELLS: Unseeded Australian Jordan Thompson grabbed one of the biggest wins of his career on Friday, ousting third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7/0), 4-6, 7-6 (7/5) to reach the third round of the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters.

"It´s unreal, at a Masters 1000 ... to have a win like that is incredible," said Thompson, the world number 87 whose only prior victory over a top-10 player came back in 2017 against Andy Murray at Queen´s Club.

He admitted he felt a little lucky when a stinging forehand from Tsitsipas on match point was ruled a hair wide.

"I´m thankful that last ball was out — I thought it was in," Thompson told fans on court.

While Tsitsipas led the third-set tiebreaker 2-1 and 4-3, Thompson´s coolness under pressure paid off as Tsitsipas belted a forehand into the net to give the Aussie a match point before succumbing with the near miss.

For Tsitsipas it was another setback in the wake of his sparkling run to the Australian Open final in January.

He departed Melbourne energized despite falling to Novak Djokovic in the title match, but shortly thereafter suffered a shoulder injury.

Playing his first tournament since a second-round exit at Rotterdam, Tsitsipas admitted earlier this week that his shoulder was still troubling him and he didn´t have high hopes of a third Masters 1000 crown.

Tsitsipas and women´s second seed Aryna Sabalenka — playing just her second tournament since winning the Australian Open — headlined Friday´s second-round action as seeded players took the court after enjoying first-round byes.

Sabalenka moved smoothly into the third round with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Evginiya Rodina, who was playing her eighth match since a return to competition at last year´s US Open after three years away from the game.

"Happy to win this match in two sets without struggling too much," said Sabalenka, who has never made it past the round of 16 in the California desert.

Sabalenka, still barred from playing under her native flag of Belarus because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, next faces Ukraine´s Lesia Tsurenko, who beat 29th-seeded Croatian Donna Vekic 2-6, 6-2. 6-2.

Ruud, Norrie ease through

Third-seeded Casper Ruud and former champion Cameron Norrie both eased into the third round with straight-sets victories.

For Ruud, a 6-2, 6-3 victory over former top-10 Argentinian Diego Schwartzman was a confidence-boosting win in a season in which he had so far failed to advance past the second round in three tour-level tournaments he had played.

For Norrie, however, a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Taiwanese qualifier Wu Tung-lin marked a continuation of the form that saw him reach finals last month in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro where he fell to Carlos Alcaraz in the first and beat Alcaraz in the second.

Schwartzman had won five of his eight prior meetings with Ruud, but the Norwegian, currently ranked fourth in the world, had little trouble against him on Friday, breaking him twice in the first set and once in the second to polish off the victory in an hour and 28 minutes.

"I lost to Diego here a couple of years ago so it was nice to get revenge," said Ruud, a finalist at the French Open and US Open last year who was bundled out of the Australian Open in the second round in January.

"The goal was to try to play heavy and sometimes kind of mix up a little bit, come to the net and luckily today somehow that went well for me."

In other early women´s action, Czech Barbora Krejcikova blew past Dayana Yastremska 6-1, 6-2 in just 69 minutes, avenging a defeat in Doha last year.

Former French Open champion Krejcikova is coming off an upset of top-ranked Iga Swiatek last month in the final at Dubai, where Krejcikova beat the top three players in the world.

World number five Daniil Medvedev, fresh off ATP victories Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai, was slated to open his campaign against American Brandon Nakashima on Friday night.

On the women´s side seventh-seeded Maria Sakkari, runner-up last year to Swiatek, trailed American Shelby Rogers 4-1 when a desert rain shower halted play.