TENNIS-INDIAN-WELLS-MEN:Del Potro advances, Ferrer goes out
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Juan Martin Del Potro survived a shaky second set before moving into the fourth round of the Indian Wells ATP tournament on Tuesday while fifth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer was ousted.
Big-serving Del Potro of Argentina, who has reached the quarter-finals in every event he has played this year, advanced with a 6-2 7-6 victory over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco before Ferrer was upset 6-4 6-3 by Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.
Having breezed through the opening set in 39 minutes, former U.S. Open champion Del Potro saved two set points in the second before clinching the tiebreak 8-6 when a Verdasco backhand flew long.
The South American clenched his fists in delight before making a sign of the cross on his chest and looking skywards in relief as the stadium court crowd erupted in applause.
"I am still very nervous from that moment when Fernando played much better than me in the second set," the 23-year-old said in a courtside interview at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"Sometimes you are lucky to win these kinds of matches."
Ninth seed Del Potro saved the first set point when trailing 4-6 in the tiebreak with a strong first serve and the second, at 5-6, when the Spanish left-hander badly mistimed a forehand.
The six-foot six-inch Argentinian, who won his first grand slam singles title at the 2009 U.S. Open, will next meet Istomin, who broke an out-of-sorts Ferrer once in the opening set and three times in the second.
Ferrer, a winner of three ATP titles this year, had lost only once in 20 matches this season before struggling badly on his second serve as he was outplayed by the 51st-ranked Istomin.
Earlier on Tuesday, Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci was gifted a walkover into the fourth round when Russian Nikolay Davydenko withdrew from their match due to illness.
It was not certain whether Davydenko had succumbed to the viral infection which has already forced eight players to pull out of Indian Wells, tournament officials said.
Bellucci will next play either three-times champion Roger Federer or Canadian Milos Raonic who were scheduled to play in Tuesday's evening session.
In other third-round matches, twice winner and second seed Rafa Nadal was set to face fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers while David Nalbandian of Argentina was scheduled to meet Serb Janko Tipsarevic.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is among the players who have already pulled out of the tournament because of the virus, which local health authorities have described as a 48-hour bug transmitted by air and direct contact and not via food.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)