One day after saving four match points to upset Grigor Dimitrov, Jack Sock continued his inspired run at the BNP Paribas Open with a 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5 victory over Malek Jaziri on Wednesday in Indian Wells.
The American is through to the quarterfinals of this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament for the first time, having won the doubles title in the desert two years ago with Vasek Pospisil.
It was a close battle when Sock and Jaziri met in Stockholm last year, with the American prevailing in a third-set tie-break, and the Tunisian tested him again on Stadium 2. World No. 18 Sock triumphed in two hours and 37 minutes, breaking decisively in the 11th game of the decider before closing it out. He struck 13 aces and saved five of seven break points.
The 24-year-old Sock has made a career-best start to 2017, winning two ATP World Tour titles in Auckland (d. Sousa) and Delray Beach (d. Raonic). He looks to take that momentum into his quarterfinal clash with Kei Nishikori, whom he will face for the first time since 2014. They are 1-1 in their head-to-head.
"I started out this year with a lot of confidence, physically, mentally, all of it. I think it's shown on court so far this year," said Sock.
"This and the US Open are my favorite tournaments of the year. I love coming back here. The home crowd is always amazing. I feel like they are into it and the energy is great. I have played all my matches on Stadium 2 and the crowd has been incredible. Hopefully I can keep riding that home crowd and the American fans will be behind me on Friday.
"I just have to play my tennis and definitely use these courts to my advantage, though. They're a little bit slower and higher bouncing, which should help me."
Fourth seed Nishikori reached the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals for the second year in a row as he defeated Donald Young 6-2, 6-4. The Japanese star rallied from a 1-4 deficit in the second set, winning the last five games to claim victory in 77 minutes. It was his fifth win in five meetings with the No. 60-ranked Young, who had reached two semifinals last month in Memphis and Delray Beach.
"He started playing much better at the beginning of the second set," said Nishikori. "I think he was stepping in a little more. And, for me, I think I backed up a little bit.
"From 4-1, I think I started playing much better, stepping in a little more and playing aggressive. I think it's a little bit unusual to win five games in a row, but in the first set I was playing great tennis. And I'm very happy the way I'm playing right now."
The 27-year-old Nishikori has been a runner-up at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament three times, reaching the Madrid final in 2014 (l. to Nadal) and the Miami and Montreal title matches last year (l. to Djokovic both times).
Pablo Carreño Busta reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal as he defeated qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5). The 25-year-old Spaniard has made a strong start to the 2017 season, reaching his fifth ATP World Tour final in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Thiem) and semifinals in Buenos Aires (l. to Dolgopolov) and Sao Paulo (l. to Cuevas).
Next up for Carreño Busta will be Pablo Cuevas, who battled past 11th seed David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 39 minutes. The 31-year-old Cuevas is in a rich vein of form. The Uruguayan is on a seven-match winning streak after winning the Sao Paulo title on clay last week (d. Ramos-Vinolas). He is now through to the first Masters 1000 quarterfinal of his 14-year career and has a 3-1 head-to-head record over Carreño Busta, whom he beat in the Sao Paulo semifinals last week.