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Defending champion wins opener at Indian Wells

12 March 2018

After three days of the BNP Paribas Open, Roger Federer has yet to complete a match. "I was too close to still beating the best", the 20-time Grand Slam victor explained.

The title defense went up to a soggy start as play got suspended on multiple occasions due to rain showers on Saturday.

Neither the elements nor Federico Delbonis could prevent the world No. 1 from extending his ideal start to the season in paradise.

South Korea's Hyeon Chung, who surpassed all expectations to reach the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year, also advanced, taking almost three hours to overcome Dusan Lajovic 6-7 (11/9) 6-3 6-3.

Novak Djokovic who along with Federer came to win the sixth Indian Wells tournament lost to Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.

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"It's been a long time since I have been interrupted at night and have to come back the next day", Federer said. "So naturally, it's all a change". It was actually quite interesting. The surface doesn't react so much; the ball doesn't travel so fast. I was not even supposed to be here because of the surgery that was only five, six weeks ago.

Conditions weren't the only challenge in a sometime tricky test against the Argentine lefty who won his lone prior meeting with Federer on the red clay of Hamburg in 2013. Earlier in the day, Feliciano Lopez dismissed wild card Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 6-3 and awaits either eighth seed Jack Sock or Italy's Thomas Fabbiano.

Djokovic, who gained a first-round bye, ought to have won the opening set but squandered a break point at 5-2 and the chance to clinch it on serve a game later.

Unfazed, Federer reeled off three straight points to close in one hour, 41 minutes.

Federer will face 25th-seed Filip Krajinovic in the third round.

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The fourth-seeded Zverev was also stunned, suffering a 7-5 5-7 6-4 loss to Sousa.

"I think I played great in the first".

"Very weird - I just completely lost rhythm", Djokovic said.

Roger Federer takes the stage tonight at Indian Wells. "Normally it's the way Novak wins it". Moreover, Djokovic was handed just his fifth defeat to a player outside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings in the past decade.

"It's exciting to see someone I have looked up to growing up. No matter the result and no matter how I'm playing or whatever happens, you know, just to go out there and give 150 percent".

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Defending champion wins opener at Indian Wells