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Ruud Surges Past Schwartzman In Indian Wells Opener

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Ruud Surges Past Schwartzman In Indian Wells Opener

Norrie ends Wu run, faces Berrettini or Daniel next

Are the desert conditions what Casper Ruud needs to ignite his 2023 season?

The Norwegian delivered a clinical opening performance to dispatch Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-3 on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. After a modest run of results by his high standards across January’s Australian swing and in Acapulco last week, Ruud appeared to enjoy the slower conditions in southern California. With plenty of time to settle behind his huge forehand, the third seed powered 19 winners past Schwartzman en route to an 88-minute victory.

“I’m very happy with today’s win,” said Ruud after reducing his ATP Head2Head series deficit against Schwartzman to 4-5. “Straight sets, and 6-2, 6-3 might look comfortable, but it never is against Diego. You really have to play well. That’s what I did today.

“He could have played better, I could have probably played better as well, but today I played good enough and happy to get through in two straight sets against a player I’ve struggled with in the past.”

The four-time ATP Tour titlist Schwartzman had also arrived at the ATP Masters 1000 event seeking a deep run to kick-start his year after early-season struggles. The Argentine dropped just three games in his first-round win against Federico Coria, but World No. 4 Ruud proved too powerful as he converted three of five break points to secure his fourth win against Schwartzman in the pair’s past five tour-level meetings.

“I feel a little bit better physically [than in Australia],” said Ruud, when asked about the effects of a training block he undertook for much of February. “In Acapulco [last week] I was struggling a little bit with the humidity, it was tough for me to feel great out there on court, but here it is a different climate. It’s dryer and feels easier for me to move around.

“I feel like you do a training block for four or five weeks and you might not get the exact result you want right away. It might take a week, it might take a month, before you feel physically fresh and ready. I think I’m starting to get there. Mentally as well, I tried to be very focused today and not focus too much on his game. I focused on my game and what I needed to do and I did that well.”

Ruud is now 4-4 for the year and will look to build on Friday’s win in a third-round clash against qualifier Cristian Garin, who raced to a 6-4, 6-0 triumph against 29th seed Yoshihito Nishioka.

Cameron Norrie also advanced to the third round in convincing fashion with a 6-2, 6-4 win against qualifier Wu Tung-Lin. The Briton, who claimed the biggest title of his career in Indian Wells in 2021, converted four of eight break points en route to a 73-minute victory that ended the dream run of World No. 175 Wu.

The win drew Norrie level with Daniil Medvedev on a Tour-leading 19 wins for 2023, although Medvedev can move back ahead if he can defeat Brandon Nakashima in his second-round match later on Friday. The 27-year-old Norrie now has a 10-3 career record in Indian Wells, where he will face 20th seed Matteo Berrettini or qualifier Taro Daniel for a spot in the fourth round.

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Max 'Purge-Cell' Reflects On Indian Challenger Hat-trick

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Max ‘Purge-Cell’ Reflects On Indian Challenger Hat-trick

Less FaceTime and doom scrolling underpins Aussie’s title blitz

Australian Max Purcell went on a three-week trip to India in February with two things in mind: winning ATP Challenger Tour matches and spending less time on his cell phone.

The 24-year-old then went on a 15-match winning streak, triumphing at the Chennai, Bengaluru, and Pune Challengers. While he was enjoying a hot streak that helped him make his Top 100 debut, his phone was left cold in the hotel room.

“I made the choice to stop with distractions off court,” Purcell told “Especially through India, I wanted to be off my phone as much as I could. I wanted to make sure I was getting as much quiet time as I could and just make sure going into my matches that I didn’t bring anything else on the court.

ATP Challenger Tour 

“No extra emotions or anything like that. I just wanted to be as calm as I could and focus on my mission. That seemed to work out really well.”

Purcell came to that decision on his own this offseason, following a gruelling schedule in 2022 that saw him constantly managing singles and doubles.

“Even when I was trying to get downtime last year, I would still find myself talking with friends over FaceTime, it would just eat into my day and eat into my energy,” Purcell said. “If I was going to go out to dinner with more tennis guys, again it was the same thing. I was trying to limit that as much as I could in India. I was like, ‘I’m going to get off my phone, stay in, and relax.’”

Purcell is the 14th player to claim three consecutive Challenger titles and the first since Ben Shelton last season (Charlottesville, Knoxville, Champaign). The Sydney native is the only Australian to achieve the feat in Challenger history (since 1978).

<a href=''>Max Purcell</a> is crowned champion at the 2023 Bengaluru Challenger.
Max Purcell is crowned champion at the 2023 Bengaluru Challenger. Credit: Bengaluru Open

The swing didn’t start so positively, though. Purcell suffered food poisoning leading into the Chennai Challenger and was confined to his hotel room for several days.

“The first one was a pretty big surprise because I was pretty underdone coming into the tournament. The three days leading into the event, I didn’t practise because of food poisoning,” Purcell said. “I landed Wednesday afternoon and then by Thursday evening I was projectile vomiting. I didn’t expect too much. And by the end of the week I was so tired. I was stoked to have won that.

“The second week [Bengaluru], I slipped through a couple of three setters early. And from then on, I was like, ‘I kind of feel unbeatable at this point!’ The last week [Pune], I lost the first set [in the first round], just felt like I was getting used to the conditions and [Mukund Sasikumar] played pretty well that set. Finished that set, then I felt like I cruised on for the rest of the tournament. So I just got better and better as the tournaments went on, more confident.”

Purcell was No. 203 just three weeks ago, but after his Indian hat-trick he is now at a career-high 95 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Cracking the Top 100 is something that the Aussie said he was hoping to achieve before turning 25. The five-time Challenger Tour titlist celebrates his 25th birthday next month.

Purcell’s slice-and-dice brand of tennis isn’t something you see on Tour every day. In 2022, Andy Murray praised the Aussie after rallying from a set down to defeat him in Newport. Post match, Murray stated that Purcell carries, “A very different game style, using a lot of slice off of both sides”.

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Purcell takes pride in his style of play.

“I don’t see anyone hitting slice forehands like I do,” Purcell said. “I don’t think there’s a single person, so I think that’s pretty unique. I grew up in Sydney, we had a lot of synthetic grass courts so I used my slice a lot when I was younger. I knew I could always hit forehand slices but I was always told by coaches that it wasn’t effective.

“Last year, I was coachless for a while so I was like ‘Screw it’, I don’t care what coaches think, I’m just going to start doing it. Been going with that and using it for a good changeup.

“I played Andy in Newport, I don’t know how he was feeling but physically I wasn’t playing great after flying straight from Wimbledon. The guy has been No. 1 in the world and I had him 6-1, 2-0 and I don’t think I hit a topspin forehand. I think that shows it can be somewhat effective. I just have a little bit of extra feel out there. I don’t think you see many singles guys volleying as well as I do, from all the doubles.”

The week prior to Newport, Purcell was coming off a dream run at Wimbledon, where he partnered countryman Matthew Ebden to win their maiden Grand Slam doubles title. Five of their six matches went the distance, including their final victory against Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

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“Five matches were five sets. Eight match points saved,” Purcell said. “Three match points saved in a row in the first round. I was looking at my girlfriend and another friend when we were down those three match points and I just remember looking at them like, ‘Well this is going to be a short trip.’

“Every match we were losing and I was like, ‘Alright we’re going to get out of here tonight.’ But it just turned into us winning the tournament. It was the most weird ending. Weird run the whole way. We never looked like winning it until the super tie-break in the final. It was nuts. It just shows that tennis is such a stupid sport with results with how anything can happen all the time.”

<a href=''>Max Purcell</a> and <a href=''>Matthew Ebden</a> celebrate winning the 2022 <a href=''>Wimbledon</a> doubles title.
Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden celebrate winning the 2022 Wimbledon doubles title. Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Despite his great doubles success, Purcell said his focus is solely on playing singles but still hopes to play both at the Grand Slams.

“Last year I burned myself out,” Purcell said. “I can’t play two separate schedules. I did seven-and-a-half months at a tournament every single week last year. I still feel like I’m getting over that mentally and physically.”

Now enjoying precious downtime at home, Purcell will next be in action at the Las Franquesas Del Valles and Lille Challengers.

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Jack Sock On Patrick Mahomes: 'Just An Awesome Dude'

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Jack Sock On Patrick Mahomes: ‘Just An Awesome Dude’

Sock into second round at Indian Wells

The crowd was behind Jack Sock during his win Thursday evening against Gregoire Barrere at the BNP Paribas Open. The fans included a special guest: NFL superstar Patrick Mahomes.

Sock and Mahomes first met at the barber shop in Kansas City after the latter was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Sock, a massive fan of the team who was at this year’s Super Bowl, was thrilled to have Mahomes in the crowd at Indian Wells, where the quarterback also watched the action Wednesday.

“I’m definitely the one usually watching the TV or in person watching him, so it’s beyond special. I had a message from him right after, so that was special as well,” Sock told “We’ve gotten to know each other over the past few years when I was in Kansas City before I moved to North Carolina. I got to know him and we were able to play golf a few times. Just an awesome dude.

“For the position he’s in, the legacy he’s building and everything, he’s just the most normal, down-to-earth guy. It’s definitely special to have him out here.”

Sock first met Chiefs star Travis Kelce socialising in Kansas City. His friendship with the tight end helped him meet other members of the team. He still remembers meeting Mahomes at the barber shop.

“Right after he got drafted, most people didn’t know a tonne about him. He wasn’t Super Bowl MVP, all that, champ. I don’t even know if he had even been at practices at that point,” Sock said. “It was literally right after he got drafted. It was kind of cool to know him then and obviously just following and being a huge fan and a friend the whole way, it’s just so cool. He’s hopefully on pace, God-willing, to maybe be the GOAT one day. We’ll see, he’s killing it for sure.”

Indian Wells is known not just for its tennis, but also its golf courses. Who would win if they hit the links again?

“We both hit it a mile, so it’s probably whoever’s driving it that day,” Sock said, cracking a laugh. “It’d probably be a pretty good match, honestly!”

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For now, Sock will continue to focus on the BNP Paribas Open, where he ousted Barrere 6-4, 6-2 to set a clash with 27th seed Francisco Cerundolo.

“He’s very, very tricky,” Sock said of Barrere. “The conditions were tough, obviously very cold, the ball wasn’t really going too far. Cold and slow, a little bit of wind at times.

“He has been playing really, really well the past six, eight months. Definitely happy with the win and going to look forward to the doubles with my guy John and the next singles.”

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Preview: Alcaraz Starts No. 1 Quest, Fritz Faces Shelton In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Preview: Alcaraz Starts No. 1 Quest, Fritz Faces Shelton In Indian Wells

Auger-Aliassime, Rune & Murray in action

The seeded stars in the top half of the BNP Paribas Open will kick off their campaigns Saturday, when Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime will be in action.

Top seed Alcaraz plays Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis and defending champion Fritz takes on #NextGenATP American Ben Shelton. Canadian Auger-Aliassime will start the quest for his first title of the year against Pedro Martinez.

Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner will also take to court in Indian Wells, where Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka look to build on their first-round wins. runs through some of the key second-round matchups on show.

View Draw | View Schedule

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[1] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)

Last year, Alcaraz arrived at the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Spaniard reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells on debut, before going on to earn Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid and his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open.

The 19-year-old returns this week as World No. 2, but will return to top spot for the first time since January if he wins the title.

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“It’s a really good goal for me,” Alcaraz said when discussing his No. 1 aims. “Of course playing a Masters 1000 is always tough and I really want to have a good result here. I love this tournament as well. For me, winning the tournament and being No. 1 again is a really good goal and I really want to go for it.”

Alcaraz is chasing his second title of the season this fortnight, having triumphed in Buenos Aires. He will open against Kokkinakis in California in what will be the first ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair. The Australian Kokkinakis, currently No. 94 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, defeated Brandon Holt to reach the second round at a Masters 1000 for the first time since he advanced to the fourth round in Miami last season.

[4] Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Ben Shelton (USA)

Two of the United States’ most exciting talents face off on home soil Saturday, when fourth seed Fritz takes on the rapidly ascending Shelton. The 25-year-old Fritz, who grew up in California, captured the biggest title of his career last year when he lifted the trophy in Indian Wells, defeating Rafael Nadal in the final despite suffering an ankle injury in the warm-up.

“Ranking-wise it was massive getting 1000 points and it gave me a lot of confidence,” Fritz said when reflecting on last year’s title run. “I came into the year with a lot of confidence, so I felt it reaffirmed that everything was moving in the right direction and it set me up to reach a career-high ranking.”

Since that triumph, World No. 5 Fritz has tasted more success on Tour, winning the United Cup as part of Team USA in January and tour-level titles in Eastbourne, Tokyo and Delray Beach.

As early tests go, they don’t get much harder than Shelton, though. The 20-year-old, currently No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, soared to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January, before he defeated Fabio Fognini in straight sets on Thursday to earn victory on his Indian Wells debut.

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[8] (CAN) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Pedro Martinez (ESP)

Auger-Aliassime has not enjoyed the best start to the season and he holds an 8-5 record entering Indian Wells. The Canadian was one of the star performers on the ATP Tour last year, though, winning four titles and he will be eager to return to his best level this week in California.

“It comes with just preparing yourself the right way,” Auger-Aliassime said when discussing his aim to peak for Indian Wells. “Scheduling your tournaments and practices in a way that ‘OK, I don’t want to come to this tournament and win a few matches, I want to be able to come and go all the way and win the final match.’ So I think it comes by preparing for that and visualising for that, so everyone around you is on board.”

The eighth-seeded Canadian has lost in the second round in three of his four previous appearances at the hard-court event, so will be looking to improve on that record when he takes on Spaniard Pedro Martinez in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

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Young guns Rune and Sinner are both competing for the third time in Indian Wells and arrive in good form. Seventh seed Rune, seeking his second ATP Masters 1000 title after winning in Paris last year, enjoyed a run to the semi-finals in Acapulco last week, while Sinner captured the crown in Montpellier in February.

The 19-year-old Dane Rune plays Mackenzie McDonald, with 11th-seeded Italian Sinner taking on Richard Gasquet.

Murray and Wawrinka have made a combined 27 appearances at the ATP Masters 1000 event, with former World No. 1 Murray reaching the final in 2009 and former World No. 3 Wawrinka advancing to the championship match in 2017.

Both rolled back the years with three-set first-round wins in California as Murray defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Wawrinka beat Aleksandar Vukic. They will look to continue their runs when they face Pablo Carreno Busta and Miomir Kecmanovic, respectively.

Home hope Tommy Paul, No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, takes on Jan-Lennard Struff and ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz plays Alexei Popyrin.

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Meant To Be A Teacher, Tung-Lin Wu Shining At Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Meant To Be A Teacher, Tung-Lin Wu Shining At Indian Wells

Wu of Chinese Taipei earned his first ATP Tour win on Wednesday

Tung-Lin Wu was not meant to be a tennis player. His grandfather was the principal at an elementary school in Chinese Taipei and several other family members taught at elementary schools. His father, Chung-Fong, worked his way up to be a professor of exercise physiology.

“I think my father wanted me to go the same way as him,” Wu told “Because he gets a really good salary.”

But the family often did something ordinary that changed his trajectory — they would leave tennis on the television.

“They went out really early and came back really late, so for me and my cousin, the easiest way to set up the kids was to turn on the TV and do their thing,” Wu said. “My childhood was we either went to the club or stayed at home and the TV was on. We couldn’t reach the remote and it was on a sports channel with Wimbledon or baseball.”

Wu’s grandparents managed a private tennis club owned by a friend, so he would sometimes tag along to the facility.

“We just hit on the wall with a racquet or threw a ball, playing baseball,” Wu said. “That’s how I started playing tennis.”

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In the early years, tennis was something he just played for fun. But around age 10, Wu began taking it more seriously. The goal was to earn a scholarship to a better college. One match a decade ago changed his outlook.

“At age 14 I had an opportunity to play [the] World Junior [Championships] in the Czech Republic. We made it to the final round and I remember I played with Michael Mmoh and it was a close match,” Wu said. “At the time I realised maybe I should try to play pro because at the time he was one of the best players of his age in the world. So maybe I had a chance to be a pro player.”

The path was not always easy, though. For the past several years, Wu has battled on the ATP Challenger Tour, claiming his first title at that level last year in Florida. Fittingly, he defeated Mmoh in the final.

Still, Wu had not claimed a match win at an ATP Tour event. That changed Wednesday evening, when he upset Alexander Bublik at the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event.

“I still cannot believe it,” said Wu, who has the respect of his peers. 

Australian Open doubles champion Rinky Hijikata, who has faced Wu multiple times in both singles and doubles, said: “Honestly I think he’s probably one of the best returners on Tour. He’s definitely one of the most difficult returners I’ve ever played against. He takes the ball on real early and he has big cuts on returns. I feel like he never really misses, so that’s always tough to play against.

“He’s a big, strong guy. He’s got a pretty good serve and he’s got a very good backhand. He’s very solid from the back, so it’s not easy to play against him and there are not too many weaknesses there. I think he also competes really well, pretty complete player.”

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The 24-year-old, who says he enjoys baseball and can throw one 85 miles per hour, began to watch basketball this year and walked around Indian Wells Thursday wearing a Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks shirt. He also likes to play a horse racing game on his phone.

But above all, Wu is a tennis savant. He is still the same kid who watched the sport on television at home when he had no choice.

“I have a lot of passion [for] this sport. I just really like it. If you ask me something about tennis I can talk with you the whole afternoon, whole night, whole day,” Wu said. “There is no very experienced coach or player in Taiwan, so if you don’t have the resources to hire a foreign coach, you have to kind of maintain [your game] by yourself.

“It’s been a long journey. I’ve learned a lot and I like when I realise new things and find new ideas and try it on court. I think this brings me more joy.”

Wu’s goal is to crack the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He is focussing on working hard in the hopes of that carrying him to his dreams, starting with his second-round match against 2021 BNP Paribas Open champion Cameron Norrie.

“I’m so proud for my family. It’s been a long journey since I decided to play professionally and I didn’t really think that I would go this far,” Wu said. “I’m just really happy that I made it and hopefully I can do better and better.”

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Murray Summons More Final-Set Magic To Win Indian Wells Opener

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Murray Summons More Final-Set Magic To Win Indian Wells Opener

Murray again passes three-hour mark in victory

Seven times this season Andy Murray has contested a deciding set. Each time, he has produced his best tennis in the clutch moments to win.

Lucky No. 7 came on Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open, where the Briton beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round. Murray, who gave a glowing report on his fitness ahead of the tournament, outlasted the Argentine in a three-hour, 12-minute match to set up a second-round meeting with 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

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While Murray did not need to save a match point on this occasion — he saved eight last month in Doha, where he won four three-setters to reach his 71st tour-level final — he did have to fight off two break points at 3-4 in the final set. The 35-year-old scored the decisive break on his fifth break point of the ensuing game on an Etcheverry double fault.

Ethceverry troubled Murray in the early stages with his aggressive baseline game, combining power and spin to great effect. In a thrilling first-set tie-break, he thwarted a Murray pass attempt with fast hands at the net and later clipped the very edge of the line with a forehand winner on set point, leaving Murray incredulous.

Murray countered with depth and precision to turn the match around, finishing with 28 winners to his opponent’s 36. He closed out the win with his sixth ace of the match.

The Briton did not drop serve in the final two sets, saving all three break points against him. He created 20 break chances on return, including 10 in the opening set and eight in the third. Murray also converted on his only two break points in the second set to force a deciding set.

More to follow…

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Hear This: Wawrinka Says 'The Level Is There' After Overcoming Ear Problem

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Hear This: Wawrinka Says ‘The Level Is There’ After Overcoming Ear Problem

Swiss returned to Top 100 last week

Making his first appearance at the BNP Paribas Open since 2019, Stan Wawrinka played just three games before receiving treatment for a blockage in his left ear.

After having his ear checked out and receiving some drops, the 37-year-old produced two love holds to reassert himself in the match against Aleksandar Vukic. Wawrinka ultimately prevailed 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, extending his win streak in deciding sets to three.

“I’ve just had some ear problems since a few days, like I can’t hear from it, it’s completely blocked,” the Swiss explained in his post-match press conference. “But not a big deal, it’s just not easy to only have one ear and to feel completely free on the court.

“But I think in general I’ve been playing well and I’ve been practising good so I’m feeling physically and tennis-wise good. Happy get the win today, it’s an important match and hopefully I can keep going.”

The victory was also Wawrinka’s first since he climbed back into the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings last week, following consecutive quarter-final runs in Rotterdam and Marseille.

“I think it was an important step for sure after being out for so long from surgery, after struggling to come back, to get in shape again physically, to feel good tennis-wise,” the former World No. 3 said of his Pepperstone ATP Rankings milestone, 18 years after he first entered the Top 100 in April 2005, when he was 20. 

“To be back in the Top 100 is always an important number. Of course I want to keep going up in the rankings. Hopefully I can also reach to be seeded in Grand Slams and these [ATP Masters 1000] events. We’ll see.

“Week after week, I think in general the level is there so hopefully I can keep winning many matches this year.”

Wawrinka will next meet 26th seed Miomir Kecmanovic on Saturday for the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. The winner will face seventh seed Holger Rune and Mackenzie McDonald in the third round.

Wawrinka is also playing doubles in the desert, forming a fan-favourite duo with Frances Tiafoe. The pair will open against Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta or Roberto Bautista Agut. Competing on two fronts, the Swiss is hopeful of an extended stay at what he called “one of the best ATP tournaments”.

“It’s always special here, a lot of people from Day 1. It’s always packed, so [there is a] great atmosphere,” he said of the bustling Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

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Shelton Continues Breakthrough Season, Sets Fritz Meeting In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2023

Shelton Continues Breakthrough Season, Sets Fritz Meeting In Indian Wells

American up to No. 39 in Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings

Ben Shelton got his breakthrough season back on track Thursday when he earned victory on his BNP Paribas Open debut.

The #NextGenATP American enjoyed a dream run to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January, but suffered first-round defeats in Delray Beach and Acapulco last month. However, the 20-year-old ensured his dip in form wouldn’t turn into a slump, defeating Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round in Indian Wells.

In a ruthless display, the lefty showed home fans a glimpse of his potential, whipping an array of forehand winners past the Italian to earn victory in their first ATP Head2Head meeting after one hour and 11 minutes.

The American hugged the baseline to dictate and was strong on return, hitting with precision to break three times.

Shelton, who reached the third round on his ATP Masters 1000 debut in Cincinnati last season, is up two spots to No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The 20-year-old was outside the Top 500 one year ago.

The American will face 2022 champion Taylor Fritz in what is set to be a popcorn second-round clash in the Californian desert on Saturday.

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