Champion Novak Djokovic on the march at Indian Wells

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DEFENDING champion Novak Djokovic moved through to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells with a 6-2, 6-3 win over South African Kevin Anderson.

Djokovic, seeking a third career title at the tournament, seized both his break-point opportunities in a tight first set and gained a solitary break in the second before serving out for victory in one hour and 37 minutes.

Despite the one-sided scoreline, Djokovic said it had been attritional stuff. “The opening set, especially opening five games, took half an hour or more,” he said. “He’s very aggressive on the return games. He has a great serve, as you can imagine for his height, so I had to return well. I had to just be patient, and wait for my chances.”

Also in men’s third-round action, American 11th seed John Isner beat 22nd seed Juan Monaco 7-5, 7-5, but there was disappointment for the home fans as both Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick lost. Eighth seed Fish was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden, while seventh seed Tomas Berdych saw off Roddick. Ebden, who next faces Isner, said: “Especially in America, to beat the top player here is an incredible feeling. [It’s a] very big win. I’m pleased with my progress, and I’ve got another big American next round.”

Thirteenth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon got the better of Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4 and 12th seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain saw off Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo in three sets. Pablo Andujar won his all-Spanish clash with Albert Ramos in straight sets, while in the late match, Ryan Harrison beat Guillermo Garcia Lopez.

In the women’s third round, world No 4 Caroline Wozniacki overcame a scare as she battled back from a set down to beat Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 37 minutes. The Dane was outplayed in the first set and teetered in the second before her class finally told in the third.

Second seed Maria Sharapova showed glimpses of her best form as she defeated Simoa Halep 6-3, 6-4. She admitted she was trying a little too hard towards the middle of the second set. “I almost started going for a little bit too much,” she said. “Instead of being patient, putting a few more balls back, I just hit a few errors that I shouldn’t have made but I got it together.”

Russia’s Nadia Petrova, seeded 30, pulled off a shock 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/5) win over Australian sixth seed Sam Stosur, while tenth seed Francesca Schiavone was forced to withdraw after one set of her match with Lucie Safarova, which she had lost 6-2.

Seventh seed Marion Bartoli needed only 71 minutes to dispatch South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 6-0, while there were also wins for Maria Kirilenko, Roberta Vinci and Ana Ivanovic.