World number 5 and two-time Masters 1000 champion Alexander Zverev will have to catch an early flight to Miami after another poor performance in the last seven months, losing to Joao Sousa 7-5 5-7 6-4 in 2 hours and 23 minutes to drop out of Indian Wells after the first match. It was a close match (Joao won two points more than Zverev overall) but the German once again failed to impose his shots and beat the lower-ranked opponent, playing passive and one-dimensional tennis that wasn't enough to give him the triumph.
He had 14 aces but besides that Sousa returned well to take the power from Zverev's initial shot and to seize the control in the rallies with his forehand. The Portuguese created 10 break points and converted four while Sascha got three breaks of serve from seven opportunities he had.
Alongside his strokes, the youngster has to be worried about the mental aspect of his game, allowing big lead in sets one and three to slip away from his hands and left him without an ATP final in yet another tournament following his success in Canada last summer.
Sascha did nothing wrong in the opening seven games, holding with ease four times and breaking Sousa at 15 in game six to open up a 4-2 lead after a poor forehand from his rival. A forehand winner gave Zverev a 5-2 advantage but that was all we saw from him in the opening set, as he dropped the next five games to find himself 7-5 down.
Serving for the set in game nine, Zverev got broken when he sent a backhand long and Sousa stole the lead after another basic error from the German in game 11. The Portuguese claimed the set with a solid hold in game 12 and he was in a good position to perform a surprise and score his first win over Zverev.
Sascha started to play better in set number two and he earned a late break in game 12 to take it by 7-5 and send the match into a decider and also the momentum to his side of the court. Joao lost the advantage he had in the rallies and he fell 3-1 behind when Zverev broke him in game four, and the German had another break point at 4-1 that could seal the win for him.
Sousa saved it with a service winner and that proved to be one of the most important shots he took in the entire match since he broke back in the following game to steal the drive and return to the positive side of the scoreboard.
Zverev couldn't leave that break point behind him and he lost the ground completely in the closing stages of the match and he lost 19 of the last 23 points to finish his campaign at the very first stop. Sousa broke at 15 in game nine after another backhand error from the German and he crossed the finish line after a service winner in game 10.
Juan Martin del Potro notched his 91st Masters 1000 win with a commanding 6-2 6-1 victory over the young Aussie Alex de Minaur in 69 minutes. 2013 Indian Wells finalist dropped 14 points in eight service games and he got broken once from three chances he gave to Alex.
On the other hand, de Minaur couldn't do much behind his serve, losing almost 60% of the points and suffering five breaks from nine opportunities that Juan Martin created. The Argentine proved to be too tough to handle in this one, serving well and firing bullets from his forehands that de Minaur failed to control.
A teenager lost his serve in the second game after a double fault, which is never a good sign, but he could pull the break back in game three. Del Potro saved a break point with a service winner and he broke at love in game four to open a 4-0 lead and cement his advantage.
Alex managed to get one break back in game five when del Potro sent a forehand long but that was all he could do, dropping serve once again in game eight after a deep return from del Potro who was 6-2 in front after 33 minutes.
De Minaur squandered two game points in game four of the second set and Juan Martin built a huge 5-1 lead with a break of serve in game six, serving for the win in the following game. The Argentine converted his fourth match point in game seven with a service winner to open his campaign in the best possible way and set the third round meeting with David Ferrer. Second round results: