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Roger Federer Remains Perfect in Paradise

Roger Federer from Switzerland in action against Federico Delbonis of Argentina during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 11 March 2018. The match resumed after rain suspended play 10 March. EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON



INDIAN WELLS—Rain suspended Roger Federer’s opening-round match in the second set last night.


Neither the elements nor Federico Delbonis could prevent the world No. 1 from extending his perfect start to the season in paradise.


Federer wrapped up a 6-3, 7-6 (6) triumph over Delbonis with a flourish soaring for an artistic high-backhand volley to charge into the BNP Paribas Open third round.


The five-time Indian Wells champion raised his record to 13-0 on the season and 58-11 in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden he calls “paradise.”


“It is interesting, you know, when you go from night to day and you play a different opponent you never know there is a difference, but you also know there is a difference in opponent, and he plays different,” Federer said. “So naturally it’s all a change. Whereas, here now you play the same guy the next day, so you can really compare, you know, how different conditions are. It was actually quite interesting.


“They play very different. You know, the nighttime is much more deader. The surface doesn’t react so much. The ball doesn’t travel so fast. Even though I served my five aces yesterday, none today. So talking about faster, I just think there is more bounce to it, especially if you play someone who has a lot of spin like he has and kicks the ball around a lot.”


Conditions weren’t the only challenge in a sometime tricky test against the Argentine lefty who won his lone prior meeting with Federer on the red clay of Hamburg in 2013.


The top-seeded Swiss led 6-3, 2-2 when the rains came last night.


Resuming play beneath a pristine sky this afternoon, Federer hit a double fault at 5-all in the tie break to give Delbonis a set point.


Unfazed, Federer reeled off three straight points to close in one hour, 41 minutes.


Federer denied all three break points he faced setting up a third-round clash with 25th-seeded Serbian Filip Krajinovic not before 1 p.m. tomorrow.


Federer’s victory came after Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel stunned five-time champion Novak Djokovic, who was playing his first match since undergoing an elbow procedure.


“For me it felt like first match I ever played on the tour,” Djokovic said afterward. “Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything.”


Federer, who bounced back from knee surgery to capture the 2017 Australian Open, said regaining rhythm takes time after an extended break.


“I also thought Taro Daniel played very well, you know, made him work for it,” Federer said. “Normally it’s the way Novak wins it. So this time he just lost one like this.


“Look, still such early stages for Novak coming back and the first one after surgery. He’s only going to get better from here. He knows that. We all know that. But it was nice to see him playing again. I see where he’s coming from. I think every player feels that way. It’s maybe just strange to hear that from such a champion, you know, that he also feels that way.”

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