Although it was not an easy win, Novak Djokovic survived against Alejandro Gonzalez 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 to move into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times provided a look at the score after the finish:
Novak Djokovic wins with a breadstick sandwich, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 over Alejandro Gonzalez. Gets the very tough Marin Cilic next. #BNPPO14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 11, 2014
This appeared as though it would be an easy win for Djokovic after dominating the opening set. He won 78 percent of his service points and never faced a break point to come away with a 6-1 win.
However, Gonzalez did not go away quietly. The No. 91 player in the world saved both of his break points and came through when needed to win the second set 6-3. Beyond the Baseline noted the sudden change in momentum:
No. 91 Alejandro Gonzalez takes the second set over Novak Djokovic. Going three. That escalated quickly. #bnppo14— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) March 11, 2014
Unfortunately for the underdog, he could not keep it up as Djokovic came back with his strong return game to easily take the third set 6-1. The former No. 1 player in the world had seven aces on the day with only two double faults, and he got 78 percent of his first serves in play. This accuracy made him almost unstoppable over the course of the match.
On the other hand, Gonzalez should be proud of the effort considering his lack of success entering the tournament:
The 25-year-old Alejandro Gonzalez had not won an ATP main-draw match before this tournament. Now he has Djokovic in a final set.— Tennis View Magazine (@TennisViewMag) March 11, 2014
Alejandro Gonzalez just took 2nd set from Djokovic. Gonzalez' career Prize money: $345,148 . Djokovic prize money in 2014: $345,926 (+$778)— Steph Trudel (@TrudelSteph) March 11, 2014
This is Djokovic's second win in a row at Indian Wells after defeating Victor Hanescu in his previous match. However, neither of the victories was as dominant as he might have hoped, especially against the inferior competition.
The Serbian star discussed his lack of confidence entering the week during a press conference:
It's a different feel, definitely. I won the Australian Open title three consecutive years and that has significantly affected the confidence level in the start of the season and all the tournaments that were following up. This year it's not the case.
The good news is the talented player has been able to survive some mediocre play and advance, something that cannot be said for some of his top competitors at this event.
This tournament has already seen a number of upsets that have opened up the field going forward. Top-seeded Rafael Nadal fell in his second match to Alexandr Dolgopolov, while No. 5 Tomas Berdych fell right away to Roberto Bautista Agut.
The bracket has opened up to the point that Djokovic would not have to face a top-10 opponent until the finals. Of course, he cannot look ahead as he will face No. 24 Marin Cilic in his next match with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.
Still, the No. 2 player in the world will hope that this easier bracket will give him an opportunity to win his first title of the year.
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