South African qualifier Kevin Anderson sent defending champion Novak Djokovic packing on Friday, ending the third-seeded Serbian's bid for a second straight ATP Masters Series title.
Anderson, ranked 122nd in the world, defeated the world No. 3 and reigning Australian Open champion 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-4 in their second round match at the US$7.54 million Sony Ericsson Open, which features both the prestigious ATP Masters Series draw and a WTA tournament.
One of the 32 seeded players to enjoy a first round bye, Djokovic was launching his title defense fresh from claiming the first Masters Series title of the year at Indian Wells last Sunday.
Anderson, 21, notched the biggest win of his career -- his first over a player in the top 10.
"I really don't know even what to say right now," Anderson said. "I really tried to give myself the best shot walking in today. I kept telling myself I can do this. I've just got to believe in myself, play my game. But even still, just knowing what he's done and what a great player he is and to have actually beaten him, it's a tremendous experience for me."
The South African newcomer to the ATP circuit had already shown he was on form this season.
He reached the final of the ATP event in Las Vegas earlier this month, where he fell to American Sam Querrey. Prior to that run, Anderson had lost the only two ATP matches he had ever played.
Djokovic, 20, defeated Argentine Guillermo Canas in the championship match here last year, becoming the youngest player in the 23-year history of the tournament to take the title.
Surprised in the first set by Anderson, Djokovic responded in the second and broke early in the third to take a 2-0 lead.
But in the following game, Djokovic appeared rattled by a time violation warning while preparing to serve at 40-all.
He was broken and broken again at love in his next service game.
Anderson made the most of his advantage, finishing off the contest on his third match point.
"It was our first meeting and I never saw him playing before," Djokovic said. "He surprised me with the way he was serving. I wasn't moving on my returns good enough and obviously that resulted in easy service games. He was winning too easy in the first set his service games and I wasn't aggressive enough. Then when I needed to use my chances in the third set, I made some unforced errors, which were really crucial."
"I was maybe going for too much," Djokovic said. "Obviously, he's really tall and with that height, you expect him not to move so well. But he has a good coordination. He has a good feel for the ball. He's a good player."
In other second round men's matches on Friday, second seed Rafael Nadal eased into the third round with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over German qualifier Benjamin Becker.
Nadal, who fell to Djokovic in the semi-finals at Indian Wells last weekend, is seeking his first title of the year.
Two top-eight seeds fell, as Russian Dmitry Tursunov outlasted number eight Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5) and Belgian Xavier Malisse made short work of seventh-seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-1, 6-4.
In women's play, Serena Williams launched her WTA title defense with a confident victory over unseeded Romanian Edina Gallovits.
Williams, seeded eighth, needed just 54 minutes to dismiss Gallovits 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round of the tournament.