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By Chris Oddo | Sunday March 12, 2017

All of the major players in the aptly named “quarter of death” have advanced, and several sizzling matchups are on the horizon. None no more titillating, perhaps, than the second meeting of the season between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.

More: Top-Seeded Murray Stunned by Pospisil at Indian Wells

Del Potro advanced early on Sunday, battling past Federico Delbonis on a hot afternoon that only cooled down slightly as the match waned on and shadows crept over the full surface of Stadium No.2. The Argentine’s 7-6(5), 6-3 victory sets up a 17th meeting with his friend and rival Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic took the court in the final day session match on Stadium No.1, long after the sun had peaked, and marched past Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund, 6-4, 7-6(5). The Serb faced a great push from Edmund in the second set as the promising 22-year-old begin to hit his forehand with authority, and moved ahead by a break. Edmund, who dropped to 0-9 vs. the Top 10 with his loss, even earned a chance to serve for the second set, but he was broken and ended up falling in the tiebreaker to a resolute Djokovic.

"I think I played very well in the first set," Djokovic said. "Second set was obviously up and down. But credit to Kyle for playing some really aggressive tennis and, you know, taking it all out. He made a lot of winners in the beginning and midway through the second. There was not much wrong I did. I did miss some forehands. But other than that, it was a very solid match."

Djokovic’s victory marks his 18th consecutive win at Indian Wells. The World No.2 is the most decorated player at the Masters 1000 level and he has earned his reputation by winning in all seasons on all surfaces. But hardcourt has always been his preference, and the five-time and three-time Indian Wells champion will look to continue his dominance and assert himself at the top of the game by coming through a wild quarter of the draw that includes Del Potro as well as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev.

To do it, he’ll have to be sharper than he was two weeks ago when Kyrgios took him down one night after he defeated Del Potro in a thrilling three-set battle in Acapulco.

Del Potro should prove to be an ornery opponent, especially if his match with Djokovic is an evening match when the sun won’t sap him. “It was really hot out there,” Del Potro said after his match today. “But I mean, the weather conditions are the same for all the players, and you have to live with that. If you manage [those conditions], you can [make] a little difference. I did well today in the second set. We play with almost shadow of the court and was even better.”


Djokovic holds the 12-4 lifetime edge over Del Potro, but they have split their last two meetings. Also of note is the fact that Del Potro was the last player to defeat Djokovic at Indian Wells. He defeated Djokovic in the 2013 semifinals before falling to Nadal in a wild three-set final.

 

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