Kohlschreiber Upsets Djokovic In Indian Wells
World No. 39 Philipp Kohlschreiber stunned five-time BNP Paribas Open champion Novak Djokovic on Tuesday, eliminating the sluggish top seed 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 38 minutes.
The 12th time proved the charm for Kohlschreiber, who was previously 0-11 against players ranked No. 1 in the world. The German also entered the match with just one win in nine FedEx ATP Head2Head matches against Djokovic.
"It's a very special win today," Kohlschreiber said. "I had a great strategy to play against him. I had two good wins [entering the match]. So everything came together. [It's] very special to beat the No. 1. Unfortunately the tournament is not over. I have to get back tomorrow with a great mindset. Today I want to take the moment, celebrate with my coach. I've got a lot of messages. I know it's a very special victory today."
In a match that was suspended from Monday evening (with Djokovic leading 1-0) due to rain, the Serbian struggled to find a burst of energy against the 35-year-old, and Kohlschreiber played a solid match to reach the fourth round in Indian Wells for the second consecutive year.
For a moment, as the German served for the match for the first time at 5-2 in the second set, it appeared Djokovic might have found a spark, landing balls deeper in the court to put pressure on his opponent and earn his first break of the match. But Kohlschreiber would not be denied, completing his big victory with an inside-in forehand winner that painted the line.
The veteran first played a World No. 1 in May 2002, losing against Lleyton Hewitt in Hamburg at 18. Three times, Kohlschreiber won the opening set against the top-ranked player in the world. Two years ago in Dubai, then-World No. 1 Andy Murray saved seven match points before dismissing the German. But Kohlschreiber finally broke through against Djokovic, saving four of the five break points he faced to triumph.
“What do you mean, this stage? I’m just starting my career,” Kohlschreiber joked, eliciting laughter and applause from the Stadium 1 crowd.
Kohlschreiber arrived in the California desert on a three-match losing streak, but he has won all six sets he has played at the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year, with none of those sets going past 6-4. The German will face 18th seed Gael Monfils for a spot in the quarter-finals. The Frenchman has won 13 of the pair's 15 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
"Gaël played better than me in these matches. He loves the big stage. He's at the moment in a very good run. A lot of confidence. It's going to be very tough, of course," Kohlschreiber said. "I put all the pressure to him. He has great record against me. He's higher-ranked. He has to win. I have nothing to lose tomorrow."
Djokovic was trying to win a record sixth trophy in Indian Wells and match Rafael Nadal's record of 33 Masters 1000 triumphs.
Did You Know?
Kohlschreiber's victory was his 25th against an opponent inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. The German's first Top 10 win came more than 15 years ago when he defeated World No. 6 Rainer Schuettler in Dubai.