For most of the day on Monday, the buzz around Indian Wells Tennis Garden was focused primarily on the pending showdown between #8 seed Venus Williams and perennial Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, another family affair sure to garner all of the attention across the grounds. But it was a late afternoon third round affair between a young American and a talented Spaniard that would bring the BNP Paribas Open crowd to its feet.
Taylor Fritz, the 20-year old out of Palos Verdes, is currently ranked #74 on the ATP Tour and unseeded entering the BNP Masters. He’d turned pro at a ripe young teen age, and was married before be broke the 20s. Now, with a young baby at home and an unremarkable end to 2017 in his rear view mirror, Fritz is back on home soil and looked to upset the #39 ranked Fernando Verdasco on Monday.
Verdasco, the 34 year old from Madrid, struck first by tallying the opening set, 6-4. But Fritz kicked into gear as they continued the two hour affair, taking full control in a 6-2 rout of his experienced opponent. In the deciding set, and with a commanding 5-4 lead and three break points in hand, Fritz was unable to convert and lost the game. This set up an eventual tiebreaker, and the Indian Wells hopefuls likely feared that an opportunity had been sorely missed. But the young Fritz came out swinging and never stopped, marching to a 7-1 tiebreak win and a subsequent berth in the Round of 16. He will face Borna Coric (CRO) next; the two have met only once, on clay at Roland Garros two seasons ago, a routine win for the Croatian.
On court Tuesday night, Sam Querrey faces qualifier Yuki Bhambri of India. Querrey (Santa Monica), seeded at #18, also remains in the hunt for a doubles crown with Gilles Muller, splitting two sets with #4 seed Murray/Soares before rolling in a 10-2 deciding set.
Flying under the radar at Indian Wells, Monterey Park’s Vania King has teamsed with Katarina Srebotnik to reach the quarterfinals in Women’s doubles. King – who reached the doubles final of the WTA Women’s Challenger last week with Jennifer Brady – and Srebotnik eliminated the #6 seed Krejcikova/Siniakova (CZE) in the previous round and will face Hsieh/Strycova on Tuesday. The 29-year old King won both Wimbledon and US Open Women’s doubles in 2010.
The Bryan Brothers meet Spain’s Carreo Busta/Marrero on Tuesday night after escaping a three set challenge on Sunday. Other American hopefuls remaining at Indian Wells include Danielle Collins, who has defeated US Open finalist Madison Keys and qualifier Taylor Townsend to reach the Round of 16. She will face Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who knocked off the #4 seed Elina Svitolina (UKR) in straight sets.
Sloane Stephens, reigning US Open champion, fell in straight sets while Caroline Dolehide pushed top seeded World #1 Simona Halep to three grueling sets, eventually tailing off as Halep persevered 1-6, 7-6, 6-2. Venus Williams emerged from the sister rivalry to move on in the Women’s draw, a straight set win over Serena Williams.