SECOND seed Roger Federer was caused few problems by Ivan Dodig as he raced into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells – but there was a minor scare in the form of some back pain.
Dodig started out well, but once he had been broken there was little fight from the Croat, ranked 60th in the world, and Federer sprinted to a 6-3, 6-1 win in 61 minutes.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing,” said Federer, who had never previously played Dodig.
“I found my way at the end of the first. The beginning of the second I started to play better.”
Dodig brought up three break points in the first game of the match, but former world No 1 Federer won five points in a row to hold.
The set went with serve until game eight, when Dodig handed Federer a set point with a double fault, then threw in a second to surrender the game.
Dodig saved three set points but it was fourth time lucky for Federer when his opponent sent a return wide. That seemed to break the resistance of the Croat and Federer broke to open up the second set, then again in game three for a 3-0 lead. Dodig finally held to get on the board at 4-1, but it was the tiniest flicker of resistance as, in the Croatian’s next service game, Federer brought up two match points and another double fault proved decisive.
The only worry for Federer was a slight twinge in his back near the end of the match. “I felt a little something in my back at the end,” he said. “I’ll just have to check it out and hopefully I’ll be fine for the next match.”
Next up for Federer is an all-Swiss clash with his friend and Davis Cup team-mate Stanislas Wawrinka, who overcame a battling Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 7-5. Wawrinka broke in game five when he showed good touch at the net, then kept control on his serve to leave Hewitt serving to stay in the set at 5-3.
The Australian held, then forced three break points in the next game, but Wawrinka won five points in a row to take the set 6-4. The pair traded breaks in the second, but Hewitt could not match his opponent’s big shots and the Swiss broke again to take the match.
Fifth seed Rafael Nadal reached the fourth round courtesy of a walkover when Argentine opponent Leonardo Mayer withdrew with a back injury.
Nadal will face Ernests Gulbis after the Latvian qualifier beat 20th seed Andreas Seppi 5-7, 6-3 6-4 in two hours eight minutes.
Gulbis roared into a 4-0 and 5-2 lead but allowed Seppi to get back into the match to win the first set 7-5. Such was his frustration that Gulbis was given a warning by the umpire, breaking his racket and also flicking out at the umpire’s chair with his towel, but he composed himself to claim a notable win.
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych enjoyed an ultimately authoritative 6-4, 6-1 win over 27th seed Florian Mayer, while South African Kevin Anderson dominated on serve as he beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-1 in exactly an hour.
There were also wins for 13th seed Gilles Simon, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 in his all-French encounter with Benoit Paire, and 10th-seeded compatriot Richard Gasquet, 6-1, 6-4 over Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
In the women’s tournament, 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic, seeded 11th this year, was beaten 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 by Mona Barthel of Germany.
Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka overcame a first-set blip to sweep past Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki eased to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Elena Vesnina.
Seventh-seeded Australian Sam Stosur beat Peng Shuai 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in two hours and 12 minutes.
Both players struggled for consistency on serve but it was Stosur who prevailed.
Elsewhere, there were straight-sets wins for fourth seed Angelique Kerber, Urszula Radwanska, Nadia Petrova and Garbine Muguruza.