Playing against each other for the fifth time and the first outside clay, Jan-Lennard Struff defeated the world no. 3 Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-1 in 70 minutes for the first victory over the better-ranked opponent. Zverev defeated Martin Klizan in the second round after the Slovak retired although he has been sick during the entire week, competing with no energy and winning just four games in another early exit this season.
Sascha lost half of the points in his games, suffering four breaks of serve from nine chances he gave to Jan-Lennard and hitting only 11 winners with 18 unforced errors. On the other hand, Struff fended off all four break points he faced and finished the match with 26 direct points and 15 mistakes, dominating in both the shortest and more extended rallies to cross the finish line in style for the 17th Masters 1000 win.
Zverev had to play against three break points in game four, saving them all before losing serve next time around when his backhand landed long to push Struff 4-2 up. Serving for the set, Jan-Lennard saved two break points in game nine (the second one after the 26-shot rally) to bring the set home in 44 minutes, looking good to advance before the rival who was far from his best.
Sascha lost serve in the opening game of the second set and never recovered, trailing 5-1 and hitting a double fault to give the serve away at love in game seven and propel Jan-Lennard into the second round. The 13th seed and a former finalist Milos Raonic took down a qualifier Marcos Giron 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 56 minutes for the 106th Masters 1000 triumph and the place in the fourth round, losing serve twice and scoring three breaks from 12 chances to prevail.
Milos had 55 winners and 31 unforced errors and Marcos won on the positive side as well with a 24-17 ratio, staying in touch with the Canadian in the longer rallies but losing ground in the shortest ones after 22 aces from Raonic.
Giron saved a break point in the seventh game and grabbed the set with a good performance on the return at 5-4, forcing a volley error from Milos to claim it in 35 minutes. Milos raised the level in set number two, losing four points in five service games and securing a break at 3-3 before sealing the set with an ace for a hold at 15 in game ten.
Marcos was ready to fight and he broke in the second game of the decider, repelling three break points in the following game to open a huge 4-1 lead before Milos started to climb back. The Canadian broke back in game seven after a poor forehand from Marcos and once again at 4-4 with a forehand down the line winner that gave him the crucial lead, wrapping up the win with three winners in game ten to move into the last 16.
The 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic has won three matches at Masters 1000 event for the first time since Indian Wells 2011, entering the fourth round at the age of 40 to continue his fantastic tennis journey. Ivo took down a qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran who scored the first Masters 1000 wins here in the desert, prevailing 6-3, 7-6 in only an hour and 13 minutes.
Ivo saved both break points he faced, stealing Prajnesh's serve once and staying focused in the second set tie break to bring the win home, firing 35 winners and 14 unforced errors. Gunneswaran also had more winners than errors but Ivo had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to secure the triumph and add more valuable points to his tally.
The result could have been different had Prajnesh managed to convert any of two break points at the start of the match, denied by good serves from Karlovic who never experienced troubles on serve by the end of the encounter.
Ivo broke a left-hander at 15 in game eight with a solid slice and clinched the set with four winners in his service game for a 6-3 after 28 minutes. Prajnesh saved a break point in the third game of the second set to stay in touch with Ivo until the tie break that he had to win to prolong the match.
Instead of that, the Indian sprayed a forehand error in the fourth point and fell 4-1 behind after another error, allowing Karlovic to move over the finish line with an ace in the tenth point.