Jack Sock saved four match points as he upset Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.
The American fended off three match points for Dimitrov as he leveled at 5-5 from down 0/40 in the 10th game in the decider and saved another down 6/7 in the tie-break, before converting his second opportunity as Dimitrov hit a forehand long to prevail in two hours and 26 minutes.
The 24-year-old Sock has made a strong start to 2017, winning titles in Auckland (d. Sousa) and Delray Beach (d. Raonic). His third victory in four meetings with Dimitrov takes him to a 13-2 mark on the season and sets up a fourth-round clash with Malek Jaziri.
"We worked hard in the off-season," said Sock. "During practices and training sessions, put myself in situations like that where I start down in a game or do a drill that I may not like as much. But put myself in situations where I'm not the most happy but still find a way through it. I think those moments are definitely paying off.
"Just a lot of talks with everyone on my team daily, making sure my head is clear going into these matches. If you put one foot in front of the other and keep your head down, things like tonight can happen."
Sock, who is at a career-high No. 18 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is looking to reach his third straight Masters 1000 quarterfinal. He has a 1-0 record over Jaziri, beating the Tunisian in a third set tie-break in Stockholm last year.
Jaziri ended Taylor Fritz’s run, beating the American wild card 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 40 minutes. The Tunisian had only won four main draw Masters 1000 matches coming into Indian Wells and will look to reach his first quarterfinal.
Fourth seed Kei Nishikori cruised into the fourth round as he dismissed Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-2. Muller, who won his first ATP World Tour title in Sydney at the start of the year (d. Evans), paid the price for only making 49 per cent of his first serves as Nishikori broke him four times in the 72-minute match.
The 27-year-old Nishikori is a two-time finalist on the ATP World Tour, finishing runner-up in Brisbane (l. to Dimitrov) and Buenos Aires (l. to Dolgopolov). The Japanese star is looking to win his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown this week and goes on to face Donald Young.
Young needed seven match points in a nervy finish to close out a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over 14th seed Lucas Pouille. The American had two match points when leading 5-1 in the decider. He then served for the win at 5-2 and squandered a further two match points. He missed a fifth chance as Pouille held for 3-5, before closing it out at the second time of asking on serve after one hour and 47 minutes.
"It's exciting to come through and be playing consistent, at least for the start of the year and just to beat back-to-back quality opponents, too," said Young.
"And then, at the end, to fight through quite a bit of nerves, that's always great as well. You've got to keep putting yourself in those positions and, when you come through them, it gives you even more confidence.
"It's what you work hard and compete for. It's my job. I was talking to a friend and we were talking about what else better do I have to do right now than to get better at tennis and play and enjoy it. It's not going to be here forever. So I'm going to try to get the most out of it."
Looking to reach his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal, the 27-year-old Young will need to overturn a 0-4 head-to-head record against former US Open finalist Nishikori.
The No. 60-ranked Young came into Indian Wells on a strong run of form, having reached back-to-back semifinals in Memphis (l. to Harrison) and Delray Beach (l. to Sock) last month.
"Kei is a great player," said Young. "He's been playing well for a very long time. We grew up together. Hopefully I can go out there and play well, and just keep doing the right things and putting myself in the right position and playing the way I want to play and see what happens. I want to go out there and win. Every time you go out there you want to get the W. That's the goal and what I'm going to try to do."