109th ranked Taro Daniel upsets Novak Djokovic in the BNP Paribas Open
Novak Djokovic has won 12 Grand Slam titles and is a five-time champion at the BNP Paribas Open, but his vast experience did him no good Sunday against qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan.
“For me, it felt like the first match I ever played on the tour,” Djokovic said. “Very weird.”
So was the outcome — a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1 victory for the stunned Daniel, who ranks 109th in the world. This was only the second tournament of the year for Djokovic, who underwent what he called “a small medical intervention” on his injured elbow about six weeks ago, but he didn’t use that as an excuse.
“He’s known around the tour for being a great fighter and just trying to get every ball back,” Djokovic said. “Look, I don’t want to take anything away from his win. It’s well deserved.”
Daniel sensed Djokovic’s vulnerability early. Djokovic broke Daniel’s serve and took a 3-1 lead in the first set but Daniel broke back to cut Djokovic’s lead to 5-4.
“I was, like, ‘OK, he’s not playing well. I can do it. If I really stick to this, I can do it,’ ” said Daniel, the American-born son of an American father and Japanese mother. “And in the second set too, I was, like, OK , he broke me [for a 4-3 lead]. Usually I would have been, like, ‘OK , he broke me. It’s probably going to be over in the third set. He’s probably going to beat me 6-2 or 6-3.’ ”
Instead, Daniel remained calm.
“In the third set, I regrouped myself,” said Daniel, whose next opponent is world No. 47 Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. “I played the best set of the whole match, and that was really good, yeah.”
Delayed, not denied
World No. 1 Roger Federer had to wait overnight after rain suspended his match against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis at 2-2 in the second set Saturday, but he completed a 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory under sunny skies Sunday. The difference in conditions was like night and day.
“The night time is much more deader. The surface doesn’t react so much. The ball doesn’t travel so fast,” he said. “Even though I served my five aces [Saturday], none today.”
No. 1 women’s seed Simona Halep was pushed hard but persevered to defeat American wild card Caroline Dolehide 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2. However, reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the No. 6 seed, was upset by unseeded Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3. No. 10 seed Angelique Kerber came back to defeat Ekaterina Makarova, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Wild-card entrant Ernesto Escobedo of West Covina, who upset Frances Tiafoe in the first round, fell to No. 28 seed Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 6-3. … Sam Querrey of the U.S., seeded 18th, advanced with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Mischa Zverev of Germany. …Kei Nishikori of Japan, the No. 22 seed, withdrew because of illness. …Fifteenth seed John Isner of the U.S. continued to struggle. Unseeded Gael Monfils of France outlasted him 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-5 to advance to a third-round match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who ousted No. 24 seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3, 7-5. … Dudi Sela of Israel, in the main draw as a lucky loser, upset No. 21 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen
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