The Indian Wells round of 128 kicked off in earnest on an action-packed day of tennis on Thursday and Juan Martin del Potro did not take long to find his rhythm.
Del Potro obliterated American qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-4 6-0??in just over an hour to move into the second round at the ATP??World Tour Masters??1000??event.
The Argentine was making his first appearance at the tournament since 2013.
Borna Coric, Nicolas Mahut and Andrey Kuznetsov were among the first players to book their spot in the second round where the tournament seeds await.
One name that will not be joining them in the second round mix is Nicolas Almagro, who lost in three sets to fellow Spaniard Inigo Cervantes.
Elsewhere, two of America’s brightest prospects faced off when Taylor Fritz took on Francis Tiafoe, with the latter prevailing in three, while there were wins for Rajeev Ram over Noah Rubin and Guido Pella over Kyle Edmund.
DEL POTRO, MAHUT AND CORIC BREEZE INTO SECOND ROUND
Del Potro might not have played Indian Wells since 2013, but in his six appearances before this year he has made the quarter-finals or better in four of them.
Wrist injuries have plagued the Argentine over the last few years but he was back to his best as he cruised by Smyczek.
Del Potro served up three aces and was not broken once, winning 80 per cent of points on his first serve on the way to victory and booking his second round clash against sixth seed Tomas Berdych in what should prove a much more thorough examination of his abilities.
World number 44 Mahut wasted little time in booking his spot in the first round as he strolled past Argentina’s Renzo Olivo 6-2 6-4.
The grass specialist needed just one hour, 16 minutes to seal the win and will face world number 10 Richard Gasquet.
It was a similar story for Croatian Coric, who eased past Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2 7-5 to set up an interesting second-round match with 29th seed Thomaz Bellucci, who has started the year in good form.
Kuznetsov broke Marco Trungelliti three times on the way to a 6-4 6-4 victory, while world number 74 Almagro crashed out against Cervantes in just under two hours losing 5-7 6-3 6-4.
Elsewhere, Memphis Open finalist Taylor Fritz bowed out to fellow American, former junior rival and qualifier Frances Tiafoe 6-3 2-6 6-3.
FIRST SERVE PROVES DOMINANCE
As you might expect, he who won the most points on first serve is usually a good indicator of who won the match, but the sheer strength of numbers behind Mahut, Coric and Kuznetsov prove their round one dominance.
Kuznetsov set the tone by winning 91 per cent of points against Trungelliti, who won just 64 per cent of his own first service points, and he was closely followed by Coric (85 per cent), Del Potro (80 per cent) and Mahut (78 per cent) who also enjoyed straight set victories.
But sometimes, it is not enough. Almagro better Mahut’s percentage by winning 79 per cent of first serve points, but he could not overcome Cervantes.
FRITZ DISHEARTENED BY LOSS TO FORMER RIVAL
Fritz came into Indian Wells with plenty of eyes on him after a solid start to the 2016 season – the highlight of which has been an appearance in the Memphis Open final against Kei Nishikori.
But the spotlight was stolen from him by fellow American teen Tiafoe as the powerful 18-year-old upstaged the world number 80.
“If you don???t have a serve in men???s tennis, you might as well hang it up,” Tiafoe said. “The way the game is going, you need to have a big serve and a big forehand after.
“I feel pretty comfortable with it and now it???s a weapon.”
For Frtiz, defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.
“Usually I handle pressure really well, but I definitely wanted to beat him badly because I never beat him in the juniors,” Fritz said.
“It???s been a while and I???ve been doing so well and I thought this was my time to take it. Like I said, I didn???t play at the level I usually would play.”
Ivan Dodig kicks off the second day of round-one action when he takes on Alexander Zverev.
Elsewhere, wildcard Jared Donaldson will be hoping some home crowd support helps him over the line against Canadian Vasek Pospisil, while Donald Young and Andreas Seppi will contest arguably the most interesting contest of the day.
Fernando Verdasco is in action against Canadian qualifier Peter Polansky, while Australia’s Jon Millman takes on American qualifier Alexander Sarkissian.
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