World No. 1 Andy Murray was sent packing from the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, on Saturday after losing 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) to Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil.
Pospisil delivered the knockout punch in style, whipping a cross-court winner on his fourth match point in front of the near capacity crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Pospisil, ranked 129th, was rewarded for his aggressive approach, rushing the net whenever the opportunity arose and pouncing on Murray’s second serve.
“I knew I was a long shot. I’ve played Andy four times and didn’t win a set,” the 26-year-old told the Tennis Channel. “I felt like I had the ability to [win], but to actually go through is a whole new thing. I tried to bring different tactics ... versus the other times I played him. I didn’t want to give him the same look each time. I wanted to put pressure coming into the net, using my strength, which is my ability at the net and serving well.”
Pospisil joked that his lowly world ranking was due to a “mid-life crisis” that saw him endure a lean season last year after he had made the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2015.
Earlier, Italian Fabio Fognini won a battle of expectant fathers when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-4.
Unseeded Fognini survived a first-set tiebreak and a tense final set before upsetting the seventh-seeded Frenchman in a match that stretched nearly 2 hours, 30 minutes in the blazing afternoon sun.
“I am happy about my performance. It’s a good victory for sure,” Fognini told the Tennis Channel after beating Tsonga for the first time in five career meetings. “Today was really hot, so the ball was bouncing a lot. I love playing with sun and good weather.”
Fognini considered himself fortunate even to make it to the second round.
The Italian dropped the first set to love and was down 5-2 in the second of his first-round encounter with Russian Konstantin Kravchuk, before roaring back to win 0-6, 7-5, 6-4.
“It is a crazy sport,” Fognini said.
Fognini’s wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, is expecting a child in late May, while Tsonga is also set to become a father next month.
In the women’s singles, Angelique Kerber breezed to a 6-2, 6-1 second-round victory over fellow German Andrea Petkovic.
Second seed Kerber broke Petkovic to open the match and needed only 58 minutes to claim the victory.
“It was not so easy [playing Petkovic],” Kerber said after the match. “We’ve known each other forever. It’s always tough to play against a friend.”
Fourth seed Simona Halep also won emphatically, 6-4, 6-1 over Donna Vekic.
Halep, the 2015 champion, broke her Croatian opponent no fewer than seven times.
“My serve is not that big, but I like to return. I’m really proud of it,” Romanian Halep said. “I’m not very powerful, but I have a little bit the technique and the angles. I love this place. I have great results here.”
While Kerber and Halep won in quick fashion, 12th seed Venus Williams beat Serbian Jelena Jankovic in a dramatic battle between former world No. 1s.
Jankovic raced through the first set and seemed poised for an upset, but the second-set tiebreak proved pivotal, as Williams survived, staving off three match points en route to a 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 victory.
“It ain’t over till it’s over and I didn’t see no fat lady singing,” said Williams, who played with her left thigh heavily strapped.