While Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal won their opening matches in straight sets on Saturday, world No. 4 David Ferrer became the first top seed to make an early exit from the BNP Paribas Open.
Spaniard Ferrer, a winner of two ATP titles this year who is known for his speed across the court, was ousted 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 by big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in the second round at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
However, four-times champion Federer wasted little time in pounding Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-3 with a ruthless display of seemingly effortless movement and razor sharp shot-making.
In a heavily anticipated evening encounter, Spaniard Nadal overcame early resistance from American Ryan Harrison to win 7-6, 6-2 in his first match on a hardcourt surface in 346 days, following a left knee injury.
Nadal, a twice former champion at Indian Wells, did not appear to be in any discomfort after being sidelined for seven months last year and he dominated the second set before wrapping up victory in just over 90 minutes.
Federer is next to play Croatian Ivan Dodig, who eased past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-2.
Earlier, the fourth-seeded Ferrer was overpowered by the towering, 2.03m tall Anderson in the final set as the South African booked his place in the third round after a contest lasting just under two hours.
Anderson is next to face Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, who crushed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-0 earlier on Saturday.
In other matches, Latvia’s unpredictable Ernests Gulbis stunned ninth-seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-0, while sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Germany’s Mischa Zverev.
Tenth seed Richard Gasquet of France beat Australia’s Bernard Tomic 7-6, 6-2, and twice former champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia upset 15th-seeded Isner 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Australian Open champion and top seed Victoria Azarenka recovered from a sluggish start to beat Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-1 in the second round on Saturday.
Azarenka clinched the first set with an ace, then broke Hantuchova for a sixth time in the seventh game of the second when the twice former champion dumped a backhand into the net.
Azarenka is next to face Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, who earlier scraped past Romania’s Monica Niculescu 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei lost 3-6, 3-6 to the US’ Jamie Hampton in their singles match, but in doubles, together with China’s Peng Shuai, defeated Italy’s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-3. The Italians are current Australian Open doubles champions.
In other matches, former US Open champion Samantha Stosur eased into the third round with a commanding 6-3, 6-4 victory over US teenager Madison Keys, while fourth-seeded German Angelique Kerber swept past Romania’s Irina Begu 6-3, 6-2.
Eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark battled past Frenchwomen Alize Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, while 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia hammered American wildcard Taylor Townsend 6-1, 6-2.