Denis Shapovalov, the youngest player in the Top 100, notched his eighth win of the season following a commanding 6-3 6-4 win over a qualifier Ricardas Berankis in an hour and 12 minutes. This was their first meeting on the Tour and Denis earned his win with a solid performance on his serve, despite the fact he landed only 47% of the first serve in and had seven double faults.
He dropped just 14 points in 10 service games and Brankis could create only one break point that he converted in set number two. On the other hand, Shapovalov won 40% of the return points and he claimed three breaks of serve from six opportunities to safely reach the second round.
From 3-4 down in set number two, young Canadian won 12 of the next 13 points to seal the deal and shine on his Indian Wells debut. The first set was decided by a single break in game six when Shapovalov capitalized on his third break point to move 4-2 in front.
The youngster served well and he closed the set with a backhand cross court winner in game nine for a 6-3 after 34 minutes. Things went from bad to worse for Berankis who got broken again in the third game of the second set after a poor backhand that landed wide.
Denis had everything in his hands now but he played a loose service game right after the break, wasting a 40-15 lead to give his serve away with a double fault and allowing Ricardas to climb back on the scoreboard. Nothing could separate them in the following four games and the defining moment came in game nine when Denis broke at love after another backhand error from the Lithuanian, earning a chance to serve for the win.
He seized it with both hands, completing his win with a service winner for the place in the second round where he will now face the 30th seed Pablo Cuevas. The opening match of the day saw a great battle of two good friends (and best men) and it was Taylor Fritz who ousted Reilly Opelka 4-6 7-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 20 minutes for his third ATP win of the season and the sixth at Masters 1000 level. Opelka had a match point on the return at 6-5 in the second set tie break but Fritz kept his composure to fend it off and send the match into a decider, scoring a late break there to move into the second round.
This was their second match of the year after Newport Beach Challenger where Taylor has won 6-3 7-6 and he had to work much harder to emerge as a winner today, having to deal with booming serves and powerful hitting of his rival.
Reilly had 19 aces but also 10 double faults (one of those cost him the second set) and he actually won one point more than Fritz, which didn't help him to achieve a more positive result. He had more break points, nine to six, and we saw just two breaks of serve in the entire match as they pushed each other to the limits from start to finish.
Reilly cruised through the opening set with just three points lost on serve and an instant break in the opening game of the match after some solid hitting from both wings. A forehand winner delivered the opening set for Opelka in game 10 after just 36 minutes (he could score more breaks, with 6 chances up for grabs) and he was looking for more of the same in set number two.
Taylor found his range in the second set and he dropped just six points behind his serve to keep the pressure on Reilly. The giant server saved two break points in game six with a service winner and another one from his forehand to stay on the right track and it was a tie break to decide the winner of the set.
A huge forehand error at the net from Opelka pushed Fritz 4-3 in front but Reilly got the mini-break back in the ninth point to earn a match point at 6-5 after two winners he blasted. He played a rushed forehand that couldn't find the line and that cost him dearly since he double faulted at 6-7 to gift the set to his friend and send the match into a decider.
There were seven break points up for grabs in set number three and it was Reilly who repelled three in the opening two service games to avoid the deficit and keep the pressure on Taylor. Fritz had to work hard to stay unbroken in games four and six and he finally got the break in game nine after another double fault from Opelka, serving for the win in the following game.
A backhand down the line winner sealed the deal for Taylor, closing the match with a hold at love and continuing with a good run in 2018. First round results: