In California, they’ll move their clocks ahead on Sunday morning for daylight savings time. But Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco did the opposite on Saturday evening, rolling back time to upset third seed Grigor Dimitrov at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The former World No. 7 fought past the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 to pick up only his second Top 10 win in Indian Wells (2-8; also 2014, d. Gasquet). Verdasco’s serve and fearless swinging carried him to the upset.
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The 34-year-old left-hander struck 12 aces and was routinely blasting first serves at more than 130 mph. Double faults had snuck in during the first two sets, but Verdasco eliminated them and lifted his level overall in the decider, hitting six aces and winning 95 per cent of his first-serve points (18/19).
Verdasco will next meet American Taylor Fritz, who beat 20-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev in a #NextGenATP showdown 6-4, 7-6(4). Verdasco leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 1-0, a three-set win at the 2016 Winston-Salem Open. Fritz will be attempting to reach the fourth round of a Masters 1000 for the first time.
For Dimitrov, it’s another third-set loss in Indian Wells. The Bulgarian has been knocked out of the Masters 1000 tournament the past four years in three-set matches: 2014, 7-5 vs. Ernests Gulbis; 2015, 7-5 vs. Tommy Robredo; 2016, 7-5 vs. Alexander Zverev; and last year, 7-6(7) vs. Jack Sock.
In other action, seventh seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa hit 17 aces to beat Russian Evgeny Donskoy 7-5, 6-4. Anderson improved to 4-0 against Donskoy in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and will play Argentine Nicolas Kicker, who beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.