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Novak Djokovic struggles but beats John Isner at BNP Paribas Open

Novak Djokovic struggles but beats John Isner at BNP Paribas Open
Novak Djokovic reaches to return a shot against John Isner during their match Wednesday night at Indian Wells. (Paul Buck / EPA)

The Big Four of men's tennis were all at it on the same day and the same place Wednesday. Fans at Indian Wells, for the BNP Paribas Open, undoubtedly were looking for excellence and dominance.

From, in order of ranking, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, that's what they got. Well, except for a scare John Isner gave to Djokovic.

Djokovic played the final night match against 6-foot-9 serving tower Isner. He got one break at 3-3 in the first set, and that's usually enough, because Isner wins his return games at a horrid 6% rate.

But Isner didn't yield in the second set until he hit long on Djokovic's second match point in a tiebreaker. The final score was 6-4, 7-6 (7).

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Murray had started the Big Four march with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino, a French left-hander.

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"I thought I did a good job against a tough opponent," Murray said.

Federer, 33 and winner of a record 17 major tournaments, was challenged by a young U.S. player, 22-year-old Jack Sock, who was on his deepest run ever in a Masters 1000 Series event. Sock had referred to Federer Tuesday as a "walking legend," and he got a good taste of that legend in a 6-3, 6-2 loss.

"I played a clean match," Federer said. "I think I served great, also returned well."

Nadal beat another Frenchman, Gilles Simon, 6-2, 6-4. Simon broke to open the second set and started ,2-0, but Nadal, as he almost always does, powered back.

"I'm happy the way I played," he said. "It was an important victory for me, for sure."

No. 5 Kei Nishikori, last year's U.S. Open finalist, was not as fortunate as the men ranked above him. He got beat by lefty Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Twitter:@DwyreLATimes

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