USA, March 15 – French Open champion Stan Wawrinka reached the Indian Wells fourth round while world No. 2 Andy Murray suffered a shock third-round exit at the hands of claycourt specialist Federico Delbonis on Monday.
Wawrinka toppled Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) in the third round of the ATP and WTA hardcourt tournament and two-time Grand Slam winner Murray lost 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3) to 53rd ranked Argentinian Delbonis.
Wawrinka, who turns 31 later this month, has won two titles this year in Chennai and Dubai but has never made it past the quarter-finals in Indian Wells, one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar outside of the four Grand Slams.
Wawrinka next faces 15th seeded David Goffin of Belgium, who beat Guido Pella 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Murray’s exit left things wide open in the bottom half of the men’s draw, where Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych all advanced.
Wawrinka is on a nine-match win streak in finals after beating Marcos Baghdatis in Dubai. He captured his third consecutive Chennai crown in January.
Last year he won four titles, including his stunning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 upset win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to claim his first French Open crown.
Murray, 28, was playing in his first ATP Tour tournament since losing to Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open in January.
“It was a tough one to lose,” Murray said of the loss to Delbonis. “I fought hard to get into a winning position.
“I couldn’t go for my shots and when I did I made mistakes.”
Murray, who became a father on February 7 with the birth of his daughter Sophia Oliva, looked rusty after his layoff.
Murray’s forehand on match point sailed well wide and long, ending the two hour, 46 minute contest on Stadium Court.
“He came up with some good passing shots. I could have done a bit more with the volleys and my serve,” Murray said. “He moved better than what I expected.”
French eighth seed Gasquet continued his mastery over Alexandr Dogopolov by rallying for a 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 win to improve to 3-0 lifetime against the 29th ranked Ukrainian.
With his victory in Montpellier earlier this year, Gasquet moved to second place among Frenchmen in the Open Era with 13 career titles.
Canada’s Raonic barely had to break a sweat against Australian Bernard Tomic, who retired in the second set with a wrist injury.
Raonic is trying to improve on his previous best performance in Indian Wells, a semi-final loss to Roger Federer last year.
The 25-year-old Canadian, winner in Brisbane this year, was up 3-0 in the second set in the third round tie, after cruising through the first at 6-2, when Tomic called it quits.
– Azarenka advances –
In women’s action, Indian Wells 2012 champion Victoria Azarenka, seeded 13th, defeated China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3.
But the event lost another top seed as Swiss seventh seed Belinda Bencic fell to Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Johanna Konta rolled to a 6-4, 6-1 win over Denisa Allertova, who sent women’s second seed Angelique Kerber crashing out on Saturday.
Just three of the top seven women’s seeds are left in the draw, including world number one Serena Williams.