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Djokovic gives Dimitrov a lesson

ESPN staff
March 12, 2013 « Sharapova eases into last eight at Indian Wells | Chartbeat test »
Novak Djokovic was only fleetingly troubled by Grigor Dimitrov © Getty Images
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After a poor start, Novak Djokovic ripped through Grigor Dimitrov's defences to claim a remarkably easy 7-6(4) 6-1 victory in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

The world No. 1 looked in severe trouble when 5-2 down on Dimitrov's serve in the opening set, but rallied to take an eventual first set tiebreak, before taking advantage of a drop in intensity from his Bulgarian opponent to race to the finish line.

The outcome looked like being so different during the early phases of play, as Djokovic quickly fell behind against the man known to some as 'Baby Federer' for his remarkable natural talent. Dimitrov was 4-1 and then 5-2 ahead, but squandered a chance to serve for the set - with a run of four double faults - and that experience seemed to unsettle him, as Djokovic raced back to set up a tiebreak.

Djokovic was so comfortable in that breaker that he was able to concede a point following a poor line call and still take the set. With Dimitrov flailing and struggling to get his groundstrokes in the court, the second set was a mere formality.

"It was a slow start, which I didn't expect or want," Djokovic said. "I didn't do much [to get back into it], it was him that gave me the chance back with the four double faults.

"I tried to play well, take the tiebreak and then did well in the second set."

Djokovic will now face Sam Querrey in the next round.

In the first men's matches of the day, there were hard-fought wins for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic against fellow seeds. The pair will now meet each other.

Tsonga came through a fraught contest against American Mardy Fish, needing two tiebreaks to dispose of the 32nd seed in a match that lasted more than two hours. The second of those tiebreaks the Frenchman won to love, ensuring a stress-free conclusion to his 7-6(4) 7-6(0) win.

Raonic, meanwhile, came through a three-setter against the higher-seeded Marin Cilic. Twelfth seed Cilic won the opening set at something approaching a canter, but Raonic rallied to force a decider and, after stealing a break at the first opportunity, held on to complete a confidence-boosting 3-6 6-4 6-3 triumph.

Elsewhere, No. 7 Juan Martin Del Potro beat Bjorn Phau 6-2 7-5, 19th-seeded Tommy Haas got by No. 11 Nicolas Almagro 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(2), and Carlos Berlocq defeated No. 16 Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-2.

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