Top Russians set for tough starts at Indian Wells
Russia’s highest-ranked men Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are both set for tough opening matches at Indian Wells.
Medvedev and Rublev enjoyed byes into the Round of 64, but the break might work against them after they contested the Dubai Tennis Championships final.
Dubai champion Medvedev faces 21-year-old American Brandon Nakashima in the second round.
Nakashima won an All-American clash against veteran John Isner during which he denied the elder statesman of US tennis a record-extending tiebreak win.
The youngster used the space on offer at the Tennis Garden to handle the ballistic first serve of Isner.
“You know you are going to get some opportunities out there,” Nakashima said.
“You know he is going to hit some big bombs once in a while. But you always go into it knowning you will have some opportunities. You just got to see them when they come and capitalise on them.”
Nakashima has lost in the second round at Indian Wells in the last two seasons and will be out to notch his best performance at an ATP Masters event.
The Californian sees Indian Wells as something of a home event, having travelled to watch the tournament numerous times as a child.
“This tournament is one of the tournaments I used to always to come to as a kid,” said Nakashima, who lives in San Diego. “It is super nice to feel at home here and have all my family and friends come out in support.”
Nakashima is yet to get going in 2023 after he ended last term with a massive win to claim the Next Gen ATP Finals crown.
Medvedev is on a 14-match winning streak and will take some beating.
Rublev will also be taking on a 21-year-old rising star in the Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka.
Lehecka had to battle to get beyond Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and earn his first ATP Masters win.
It was just the second time he has appeared in the main draw at this level having come through the qualifiers at Monte Carlo in 2022.
In the first set, Lehecka came back from a break down twice before saving two set points on serve at 5-6. In the tie-break, he never trailed and stormed out to a 3-0 lead in set two, until his French opponent stormed back and levelled the second at 4-4.
Lehecka won the match with his fourth break as he narrowly avoided another tiebreak.
Wu Yibing of China also progressed on Day 1 of main-draw action in Indian Wells, defeating Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-7(6), 6-0, 7-6(3).
He goes on to face another Spaniard, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the 23rd seed.
In other results, Ugo Humbert defeated Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-2, 7-6(6), and Ilya Ivashka defeated Roman Safiullin 6-4, 6-2.
Marcos Giron and Oscar Otte also won in straight sets, with the American Giron defeating countryman Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 7-5 and the German overcoming Laslo Djere 6-3, 7-5.
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