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Kohlschreiber stuns Djokovic in Indian Wells for first win over a World No. 1

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 13 Mar 2019
  • Kohlschreiber beat Djokovic in straight sets to make the R16 at Indian Wells
  • It was the German's first win over a player ranked No. 1
  • It's also his first win over Djokovic since 2009
Philipp Kohlschreiber (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Five-time champion Novak Djokovic has crashed out of the Indian Wells Masters after suffering a shock straight sets loss to German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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Since turning professional all the way back in 2001, Kohlschreiber had never beaten a player ranked No. 1 in the world, but that all changed in the Californian desert on Tuesday as he secured a 6-4 6-4 victory over reigning Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open champion Djokovic.

Kohlschreiber was previously 0-11 against No. 1 ranked players, although he did come agonisingly close against Andy Murray in Dubai two years ago, but he couldn’t convert a staggering seven match points. It appeared as if the German could be in for another nervous finish against a No. 1 when he failed to serve out the match at the first time of asking at 5-2 in the second, with Djokovic finding a burst of energy and firing some trademark backhand winners.

The Serbian went on to hold his own serve, but Kohlschreiber wasn’t to be denied, firing off a forehand winner on match point - and after a hawk eye challenge from Djokovic showed the ball was in - he let out a jubilant roar of celebration.

"It's a very special win today," Kohlschreiber said after the win. "I had a great strategy to play against him. I had two good wins [entering the match]. So everything came together. [It's] very special to beat the No. 1. Unfortunately the tournament is not over. I have to get back tomorrow with a great mindset. Today I want to take the moment, celebrate with my coach. I've got a lot of messages. I know it's a very special victory today."

Kohlschreiber’s last win over Djokovic came at the 2009 French Open, where he prevailed 6-4 6-4 6-4, and after today’s win, it means his last five sets won against the Serbian have come by that scoreline.

Novak Djokovic congratulates Philipp Kohlschreiber (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
The 35-year-old arrived at Indian Wells in poor form, losing his last three matches in the opening round at Montpellier, Rotterdam and Dubai, but Kohlschreiber has been outstanding so far in the Coachella Valley, beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 6-0 and recently-crowned Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios 6-4 6-4 before eliminating Djokovic.

Kohlschreiber also played well in Indian Wells last year, beating World No. 3 Marin Cilic on his way to the quarter-finals, where he lost in three sets to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. The German will try and match that run when he meets in-form Rotterdam champion Gael Monfils in the fourth round on Wednesday. Monfils currently leads their head-to-head 13-2.

"Gael played better than me in these matches. He loves the big stage. He's at the moment in a very good run. A lot of confidence. It's going to be very tough, of course," Kohlschreiber said. "I put all the pressure to him. He has great record against me. He's higher-ranked. He has to win. I have nothing to lose tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Djokovic has now suffered surprise losses at four of his last five tournaments, separated from his dominant run to a seventh Australian Open title in January. He went down to Karen Khachanov at the Paris Masters, lost to Alexander Zverev in the Nitto ATP Finals title match, fell to Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha and now exited at the hands of Kohlschreiber at Indian Wells.

Djokovic was looking to win a record sixth Indian Wells crown and to equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 Masters 1000 titles.

There was no such trouble for fellow five-time champion Roger Federer, who cruised into the fourth round courtesy of a routine 6-3 6-4 win over compatriot and good friend Stan Wawrinka later on Tuesday night.

Federer didn’t face a break point during the 59-minute victory and converted four of his six chances as he claimed a 22nd victory over Wawrinka.

Elsewhere, more top seeds fell by the wayside to younger opposition as Denis Shapovalov toppled Marin Cilic and Hubert Hurkacz beat Kei Nishikori for the second tournament running.

Djokovic’s elimination - along with Zverev’s early round loss and Kevin Anderson’s pre-tournament withdrawal - means one of Kohlschreiber, Monfils, Dominic Thiem, Ivo Karlovic, Milos Raonic, Jan-Lennard Struff, Yoshihito Nishioka or Miomir Kecmanovic will make the Indian Wells final from the top half of the draw.


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Kohlschreiber stuns Djokovic in Indian Wells for first win over a World No. 1

Five-time champion Novak Djokovic has crashed out of the Indian Wells Masters after suffering a shock straight sets loss to German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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