EDMUND AD­VANCES

Bri­ton sets up clash against Djokovic

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BRI­TON Kyle Edmund cruised into an In­dian Wells ATP Mas­ters meet­ing with three-time de­fend­ing cham­pion No­vak Djokovic on Fri­day with a 6-1, 6-3 vic­tory over Por­tu­gal’s Gas­tao Elias.

Edmund, ranked 46th in the world, needed just 65 min­utes to get past the 95th-ranked Elias and line up a third ca­reer meet­ing with Djokovic, a five-time win­ner at In­dian Wells who is seeded sec­ond this year be­hind world No 1 Andy Mur­ray of Bri­tain.

“The things (Djokovic) does well are mak­ing a lot of balls and be­ing quick around the court. It’s tough to get the ball by him and break him down,” said Edmund, who lost to the Serb star at the Mi­ami Mas­ters and US Open last year.

“These are things that I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the last two times I’ve played him. I’ll try and use that to­day.”

Djokovic is hop­ing a re­turn to the hard courts of Cal­i­for­nia – where has en­joyed such suc­cess – will sig­nal a revival.

Af­ter a lack­lus­ter end to 2016 that saw him sur­ren­der the world No1 rank­ing to Mur­ray, things ap­peared to be look­ing up with his vic­tory in Qatar in Jan­uary.

But a shock sec­ond-round exit at the Aus­tralian Open fol­lowed by a quar­ter-fi­nal loss in Aca­pulco have him back in re­build­ing mode.

With 32 seeded play­ers en­joy­ing first-round byes, it was un­seeded play­ers jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion on Fri­day.

US 19-year-old Tay­lor Fritz dis­patched France’s Benoit Paire 63, 6-2 to line up a meet­ing with third-seeded Croa­t­ian Marin Cilic.

Fritz, a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia na­tive, kept his fo­cus as in­jury con­trib­uted to some er­ratic play from Paire.

“My fo­cus was just to serve, serve well, kind of just man­age my ser­vice games, be­cause I felt like I would get chances on his serve and I would just have to take them,” said Fritz, who saved the only break point he faced in the 65-minute match.

“It was just a weird match, be­cause the an­kle or foot in­jury or is­sue he had in the be­gin­ning – some­times he’d move re­ally well, some­times he wouldn’t. Some­times he would just dou­ble fault, some­times he’d hit an ace.”

A whirl­wind 2016 saw Fritz climb as high as 53rd in the world last Au­gust, but he was slowed by a late sea­son knee in­jury and ar­rived at In­dian Wells ranked 136th in the world.

Fritz, who broke a 13-match los­ing streak against top-50 op­po­nents with his win over 40thranked Paire, was al­ready turn­ing his at­ten­tion to for­mer US Open cham­pion Cilic.

In other matches, France’s Stephane Robert de­feated Is­raeli Dudi Sela 6-4, 6-4 to book a meet­ing with ninth-seeded Roger Fed­erer, a four-time In­dian Wells win­ner who is rid­ing high af­ter cap­tur­ing his 18th Grand Slam ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open.

Bri­tain’s Daniel Evans cruised past German Dustin Brown 6-1, 61 to se­cure a meet­ing with fourth­seeded Kei Nishikori of Ja­pan.

AFP PIC

Kyle Edmund in ac­tion against Gas­tao Elias in the BNP Paribas Open in In­dian Wells on Fri­day.

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