Not many would have expected this third round result as the world number 53 Federico Delbonis scored one of the biggest wins of his career, defeating Andy Murray in three sets 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3).
This was the pair’s first encounter despite both players having turned pro over nine years ago. Delbonis, currently ranked at 53 in the world, had made a decent start to his Indian Wells campaign, securing straight sets wins first over Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 7-6(5) and then over the 32nd seed Joao Sousa 7-6(6), 6-4 in the round of 64. Meanwhile Murray may not have been at his best as he adapted to the conditions in the desert, but was more than good enough to defeat Marcel Granollers in straight sets in his second round match.
Delightful Start For Delbonis
Delbonis, enjoying his best season on the hard courts, made a fine start against the world number two, recovering from 0-30 down to hold before pushing the Brit to deuce in the third game despite being 40-0 down. An incredible 39 shot rally earned the Argentinean a break point. Murray saved the first after a tight return from the world number 53, but he found a way to secure the break on the second occasion.
As expected, the two-time Grand Slam champion responded instantly, breaking straight back after Delbonis missed an uncomfortable looking volley. The world number two’s recovery was short lived as the world number 53 broke the Brit once again in the seventh game, which proved to be key as the Argentine confidently closed out the first set 6-4.
The Brit Back On Track
Any warning signs of a potential upset were put on hold as Murray made the perfect start to the second set, securing the early break. But that was not without its own struggles as Murray became increasingly frustrated with his game after conceding a break point in the third game. The Brit went on to save that particular point, before saving another with a brilliant defensive shot which turned into a winner.
After the early struggles behind his own serve the world number two found more consistency and was able to hang on, claiming the set 6-4 to force a decider in this last 32 encounter in the desert.
The Comeback Looked To Be Complete
The Brit took advantage of serving first in the final set, striking with the early break to take a commanding 4-1 lead, with Delbonis seemingly fading away.
Delbonis Digs Deep
The Argentine had proven that he could hang in the rallies and play Murray at his own game, even executing it better than him at times, with his forehand proving to be highly influential in the matches outcome. The world number 53 was able to complete an unlikely recovery which resulted in the players being locked in at five games all.
In the 11th game, Murray played a very ill advised drop shot at 30-30 to hand the Argentinean a break point in the crucial closing stages of the match. The world number two responded as Delbonis played a woeful point from his end of the court. A second break point was met with another miss from the world number 53 as he reluctantly attempted to attack the second serve. It proved to be third time lucky for the Argentine as Murray netted a backhand, presenting the opportunity for Delbonis to serve for the match.
The Momentum Shifts Once More
Serving for the match against anyone is never easy, especially against the world number two. That proved to be the case for Delbonis as he stepped to the line, first missing a drop shot and then double faulting to hand Murray two life lines. As testament to the way the Argentine played in this match he saved the first break point with an ace and the second with a gutsy body serve. However, the tight shots he continued to produce from his racket proved costly as he gifted Murray the break back, six games all.
The Brit looked set to complete the turnaround as he took a 2-0 in the tiebreak, only to string together several uncharacteristic errors to head to the changeover at 3-3. Delbonis took the next four points, with the match finishing with yet another error from Murray (25 winners – 34 unforced errors). A terrific result for the world number 53, one of his greatest wins after defeating a top ten player for just the third time in his career. He will go on to face either Gael Monfils or Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the last 16.