(Reuters) - Argentine Federico Delbonis saved two match points and earned a second-round clash with Roger Federer when he outlasted Ryan Harrison 6-2 4-6 7-5 at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
The crowd which had gathered to watch Serena Williams’ post-childbirth comeback in the evening session instead were entertained by a high-quality men’s contest that stretched from afternoon into the night in Indian Wells, California.
Delbonis used his powerful forehand to good effect, eventually dispatching the American in a match that featured numerous long rallies.
The Argentine put away a smash with aplomb to save a second match point, after previously in the same game allowing the ball to go as he rushed the net, only to watch in dismay as it landed on the baseline and brought up the first match point against him.
Suitably buoyed by staving off defeat, 67th-ranked Delbonis broke in the next game and then held serve for the victory, converting his first match point to a perfunctory reception from the pro-Harrison crowd.
Delbonis’ reward will be another trip to center court to face top seed and defending champion on the weekend.
As Federer and the other top seeds cooled their heels, Russian Daniil Medvedev maintained his perfect career record against Steve Johnson when he beat the American 7-6(0) 6-4.
American Johnson saved two match points, the second in a 21-shot rally.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, meanwhile, was too good for qualifier Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, winning 6-3 6-4.
In another match, Taylor Fritz saved a match point before edging good friend Reilly Opelka 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in an all-American contest.
Opelka was best man in 2016 when Fritz married fellow pro Raquel Pedraza.
“Obviously it is always uncomfortable playing someone you are such good friends with,” Fritz said.
“We both do know each other’s tricks and tendencies so that comes into play.”
In the day’s biggest upset, American qualifier Mitchell
Krueger outlasted 46th-ranked Benoit Paire of France 6-4 1-6 6-4.
It was the first top-level victory for 234th-ranked Krueger.
Canadian qualifier Peter Polansky won the day’s closest match but only after squandering seven match points, and saving two, before finally dispatching Romanian Marius Copil 7-6(3) 6-7(5) 7-6(12) in a three-hour thriller.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Amlan Chakraborty