California: Defending champion Taylor Fritz overcame a stiff challenge from fellow American young gun Ben Shelton to advance 4-6 6-4 6-3 into the third round of Indian Wells on Saturday.
An energized Shelton came out firing and crushed an emphatic overhead to break serve en route to grabbing the first set as an upset appeared in the works.
But the fourth seeded Fritz converted the first break opportunity he saw on set point when Shelton dumped a forehand into the net to level the match at a set apiece.
In the final game of the match Fritz showed that he is more than a big server, hitting a brilliant lob and deft drop shot to set up match point, which he converted when Shelton’s attempt to block back a ferocious forehand sailed long.
“He’s a really good player, and I expected him to come out serving bombs and playing well because he had nothing to lose,” Fritz said of the 20-year-old Shelton.
“I had to regroup and problem-solve. He’s an extremely tough first match to play so I’m happy to get through it.”
Andy Murray enjoyed a rare straight-sets win over tournament lucky loser Radu Albot of Moldova 6-4 6-3 to set up an all-British third-round showdown with Jack Draper.
The veteran Murray said he expects a great match against a player he has mentored. The 21-year-old Draper beat countryman Dan Evans 6-4 6-2 earlier in the day.
“I think he’ll be a top player for a long time,” Murray told reporters.
In other men’s results, Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3 7-6(2), eighth seed Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada was a 7-6(5) 6-4 winner over Spain’s Pedro Martinez and Swiss Stan Wawrinka beat 26th seed Czech Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6(8) 6-4.
On the women’s side, world number one and top seed Iga Swiatek got her title defense off to a dominant start with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing of Claire Liu.
“Tactically and tennis-wise, everything was on point, so I’m pretty happy with my game,” said Swiatek, who next faces either American wildcard Peyton Stearns or 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada.