Two years after he made his Masters 1000 debut here at Indian Wells Taylor Fritz will play in the fourth round after his best result at Masters 1000 series (he came to the desert with five wins overall and he already notched three this week) and a 4-6 6-2 7-6 win over Fernando Verdasco in 2 hours and 7 minutes. Playing against each other for the first time since Winston-Salem 2016 Fritz have managed to overcome a slow start and turn the match into his favor before closing it in the deciding tie break after missing two match points in the 10th game of the final set on Verdasco's serve.
Fritz served at 70% and he lost serve twice from four opportunities he offered to Verdasco, who on the other hand faced eight break points and suffered three breaks of serve to end on the losing side. Verdasco was off to a very fine start, serving at 72% in the first set and dropping just five points in five games to keep the pressure on Taylor.
The American had four good holds but one loose service game cost him the set when Fernando broke him at love in game three. The Spaniard controlled his shots nicely and he closed the set with an ace in game 10 after just 31 minutes, hoping for more of the same in set number two.
Instead of that, his first serve percentage dropped to 42% and Taylor took advantage of that, earning five break points and scoring two breaks to send the match into a decider. Verdasco wasted a break point in the opening game of the set and Fritz took charge after that, moving ahead in game six after a double fault from the Spaniard.
Another double fault from Fernando in game eight cost him the set and the momentum was on Fritz's side who played much better in the last 20 minutes. The match was turning into a nightmare for a former world number 7 as he double faulted again in the second game of the final set to fall 2-0 behind but he pulled the break back after a forehand error from Taylor in the next game.
Verdasco saved two break points in game 10 to reach the tie break but he couldn't stay focused in the crucial moments, hitting two double faults to found himself 5-1 down and losing the match after a strong forehand from Fritz who will now face Borna Coric for the place in the quarters.
The 30th seed Pablo Cuevas notched his 30th Masters 1000 win when the 5th seed Dominic Thiem had to retire while trailing 3-6 6-4 4-2. The Austrian injured his ankle while serving for the first set and it only got worse as the match progressed and he was forced to quit after an hour and 45 minutes.
This is the best result for Cuevas in Masters 1000 series since losing to Thiem in Madrid semi-final 12 months ago and he deserved it with four break points saved in set number two before breaking Thiem in the 10th game to steal the set and send it into a decider.
Dominic grabbed an early lead with a break in game six after a double fault from Pablo and he closed the opener in game nine but only after injuring his right foot. The Uruguayan had to dig deep in the fifth game of the second set, saving three break points that could easily cost him the match despite rival's injury and he saved another one in game seven to remain on the right track.
After missing his opportunities Thiem was punished in game 10 when he lost his serve following a poor backhand, and his chances were much smaller now considering his physical condition. He stayed in touch with Cuevas in the first four games of the final set but Pablo managed to break him in game six and Thiem decided he has had enough, retiring in order to prevent an even bigger injury and sending his rival into the last 16.
Third round results: