• Del Potro advances, Verdasco gets a free pass

    3/13/11 4:22 AM | Cheryl Murray
    Del Potro advances, Verdasco gets a free pass Juan Martin Del Potro was able to weather a good fight from Ivan Ljubicic, while Fernando Verdasco benefited from a retirement.

    Defending champion Ivan Ljubicic got nowhere near defending his 2010 title, but he put on a good show for the fans in Indian Wells.

    The first set of his match against Juan Martin Del Potro was a truly entertaining affair, with blistering groundstrokes from both men and with each managing his own serve. The set appeared headed for a tiebreaker, but Ljubicic snagged a break at the last moment to take the lead.

    Del Potro found his aggression in the second set. Ljubicic had four chances to break serve, but the Argentine was a rock and fought off each attempt. Del Potro made the most of his one opportunity; he secured an immediate break and held it for the entire set to keep himself in the match.

    Ljubicic ran out of steam in the third set. Del Potro showed glimpses of the kind of game that won him the US Open in 2009. The Argentine will take on young gun Alexandr Dolgopolov in a third round blockbuster.

    Fernando Verdasco had a much easier path to the third round. Lithuania’s Richard Bernakis played well enough in the first set to take the Spaniard to 7-5, but he was forced to retire in the second set down 0-2 with back pain.

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