The ATP World Tour solidifies it’s Round of 16 with 3rd-Round play from the bottom half of the draw tomorrow. Djokovic, Murray, Nishikori and Isner all advanced today…as did the Aussies Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis. Those out: David Ferrer, Kevin Anderson and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Stadium-2’s most thrilling 3rd-Round wins came from Nishikori and Garcia on Monday, though Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Cuevas showcased some remarkable rallies in their 3rd-set just before midnight:
- A. Mannarino (FRA) d  E. Gulbis (LAT) 64 64
-  K. Nishikori (JPN) d  F. Verdasco (ESP) 67(6) 61 64
-  J. Isner (USA) d  K. Anderson (RSA) 76(6) 62
-  C. Garcia (FRA) d  A. Ivanovic (SRB) 62 57 62
-  F. Pennetta (ITA) d  S. Stosur (AUS) 64 62
-  F. Lopez (ESP) d  P. Cuevas (URU) 62 46 63
From our post match interviews:
Adrian Mannarino is for real. He earned five titles on the Challenger level last year. This year, he reached the Final in Auckland, the SF a few weeks back in Delray Beach and he’s cracked the top-40. Ernests Gulbis may have been the higher seed, but Adrian was clearly the more consistent player – Ernests is now 1-6 in 2015. In our post match conversation, Adrian talked how his confidence is at an all-time high here at Indian Wells; confidence that he’ll need in the Round of 16. NEXT: Andy Murray.
Kei Nishikori and Fernando Verdasco launched artillery in an all-out assault on each other during the hottest part of the day. When the smoke cleared, Fernando Verdasco was up a set after winning the tie-break 8-6. It was a painful, punishing hour of tennis. Kei’s conditioning then took-over. Exhausted, Verdasco fell 1-6 in the second and 4-6 in the third. Nishikori acknowledged that these moments reaffirm the hard-word done in the gym and on the practice courts, enduring through the heat and pain. His coach, Michael Chang has won here three times. I asked if Michael had given him any specific advice that would help him raise his first Masters-1000 trophy here. The answer is YES, but that’s all he’ll let us know for now. He’ll be more specific on Sunday should he be on Stadium Court with crystal hoisted high. NEXT: Feliciano Lopez.
John Isner downed Kevin Anderson in two on Monday, admitting that the ball simply seems to travel well for him here. He’s had some his best results in the desert, including a Final-appearance three years ago. After the win, John said he was proud of his approach versus Kevin, with attacks beyond the booming serve – but he DID NOTICE that he scored the fastest serve of the tournament during the match…so he’s pretty proud of that. Funny. We then discussed his upcoming opponent – someone he’s faced in two Indian Wells Semifinals. He’s won one. His opponent has won one. In John’s words: “It is a completely winnable match. I would be insane to even take the court if I didn’t believe I could win. I’m really looking forward to the match.” NEXT: Novak Djokovic.
The defending BNP Paribas Open champion Flavia Pennetta was forced to take a back-seat to Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka on Monday. While Maria vs. Vika took center stage, Flavia played to a much smaller crowd here on Stadium-2 against two-time Indian Wells doubles champion, Sam Stosur…and dominated. Flavia is now 6-0 vs. Stosur, and after the match I reminded her that this exact same scenario happened last year (Stosur in the 3R)…and she went on to win the title. “Oh, you don’t have to remind me!” she said. “I’m really happy with the way I’m playing and happy that we could end our matches at the same time tonight.” She was talking about Maria Sharapova, who she’ll face in the Round of 16 tomorrow afternoon. Flavia has won their last two matches, including the US Open four years ago.
Feliciano Lopez had to battle both Pablo Cuevas and some obnoxious fans on Monday’s final 3rd-round match on Stadium-2. He rolled in the first set, but Pablo found another gear in the second to make it a contest. Cuevas broke at 4-all and served it out to force a decider. The rallies in the third were exhausting, but Feliciano ultimately delivered the win 6-3. After the match he said he played his best tennis of the year in the first set, and in the third, he proved to himself that his conditioning is there. He’ll need it. He’s got a crack at a top-5 win in the Round of 16. NEXT: Kei Nishikori. (Feli defeated Kei in Cincinnati two years ago, however Kei has won their last two matches)
FULL RESULTS: Indian Wells 2015. Monday. Day-6.
ATP Singles Third Round
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 75 63
 A. Murray (GBR) d  P. Kohlschreiber (GER) 61 36 61
 K. Nishikori (JPN) d  F. Verdasco (ESP) 67(6) 61 64
 B. Tomic (AUS) d  D. Ferrer (ESP) 75 64
 F. Lopez (ESP) d  P. Cuevas (URU) 62 46 63
A. Mannarino (FRA) d  E. Gulbis (LAT) 64 64
 J. Isner (USA) d  K. Anderson (RSA) 76(6) 62
[WC] T. Kokkinakis (AUS) d J. Monaco (ARG) 62 57 76(5)
ATP Doubles Second Round
 I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) d J. Isner (USA) / S. Querrey (USA) 26 64 10-8
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) / R. Nadal (ESP) d  M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) 64 64
D. Inglot (GBR) / F. Mergea (ROU) d J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) 63 64
S. Bolelli (ITA) / F. Fognini (ITA) d R. Klaasen (RSA) / L. Paes (IND) 64 46 10-2
WTA Singles Third Round
 M. Sharapova (RUS) d  V. Azarenka (BLR) 64 63
 B. Bencic (SUI) d  C. Wozniacki (DEN) 64 64
 C. Garcia (FRA) d  A. Ivanovic (SRB) 62 57 62
 E. Bouchard (CAN) d  C. Vandeweghe (USA) 63 62
 S. Lisicki (GER) d  S. Errani (ITA) 64 62
 F. Pennetta (ITA) d  S. Stosur (AUS) 64 62
 J. Jankovic (SRB) d  M. Keys (USA) 57 64 63
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d  A. Cornet (FRA) 75 16 62
WTA Doubles Second Round
K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A. Klepac (SLO) d [WC] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) / C. Vandeweghe (USA) 62 63