(Reuters) - Normal service resumed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Tuesday when Novak Djokovic safely booked his place in the fourth round of the men’s draw and Li Na moved into the women’s quarter-finals.
Djokovic had a little hiccup when he dropped the second set of his match with Colombia’s Alejandro Gonzalez but was otherwise untroubled in winning 6-1 3-6 6-1.
“I thought I played really well from the start,” said Djokovic, a two-time champion at Indian Wells.
“Then suddenly I just had a big loss of concentration and allowed him to win the second set for no reason. I bounced back better in the third.”
While the Serbian was not at his best, Djokovic did at least survive to fight another day in the Californian desert after the shock losses of world number one Rafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova on Monday.
Djokovic’s next opponent is the big-serving Croatian Marin Cilic, who recorded his 20th win this season with a 6-4 6-3 over Spain’s Tommy Robredo.
“I obviously cannot allow myself to have these particular concentration lapses in the match at this level especially in the next match when I’m playing Cilic, a guy who is in really good form and I think has gotten better in last couple of months working with (Goran) Ivanisevic.”
Li, promoted to the women’s top seed after winning the Australian Open and in the absence of Serena Williams, beat Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1 6-4 but only after a extraordinary final game where she struggled to close out the match.
Li raced through the opening set in just over half an hour then recovered from 3-0 down to serve for the match at 5-4 when she suddenly got the wobbles.
The final game lasted 20 minutes as Li squandered 10 match points and took her tally of double-faults for the match to nine before she finally sealed the win.
“I only can say: Welcome to the crazy women’s tennis tour,” she told the crowd in a courtside interview.
“I think all the match I was feeling pretty good, except the last game,” Li was quoted as saying on the WTA website (www.wtatennis.com).
“The funny thing was that in the beginning of the game I was feeling tight, nervous, and then I was like, “What’s going on? Why can’t I finish the match?” and she wasn’t giving up, and was defending so well. It was really tough.
“All I can say is wow, she saved a lot of match points. She’s pretty good.”
While Robredo lost to the towering Cilic, three of his compatriots all advanced with Fernando Verdasco upsetting world number nine Richard Gasquet of France 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 to leave Djokovic as the only top-10 player left in the bottom half of the men’s draw.
Roberto Bautista Agut held his nerve to beat Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 4-6 7-6 (8-6) to move on before Feliciano Lopez joined the Spanish Armada with a 1-6 6-3 6-4 defeat of Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.
In the women’s draw, Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic ended her five-match losing streak to Denmark’s Carolina Wozniacki when she reeled off 10 consecutive games to win 6-3 6-1 and advance to the quarter-finals.
“At 3-1, I kind of found my way, found my rhythm, and I was striking the ball very well out there and took control of the points,” said Jankovic.
“I just did not let her play what she plays. That was very important. So I was pretty pleased with the way I played and how composed I stayed throughout the whole match.”
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, the second seed, breezed past Alize Cornet of France 7-5 6-3 while Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova brushed aside the challenge of Petra Kvitova, beating the Czech 6-3 6-2.
Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi came back to Earth with a thud when she was thrashed 6-2 6-1 by compatriot Flavia Pennetta less than 24 hours after she stunned Sharapova.
Romania’s Simona Halep qualified for the last eight with a hard-fought 6-2 1-6 6-4 win over Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard after trailing 4-3 in the deciding set.
“It wasn’t my best tennis today, but I was fighting a lot,” said Halep, ranked seventh in the world. “I did well. I think I came back in the third set very well.”
Hale’s next match will be against Australian qualifier Casey Dellacqua, who got a walkover to the quarter-finals after her American Lauren Davis retired with gastrointestinal illness.
Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; additional reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; Editing by Frank Pingue/Greg Stutchbury