Dubai champion Rublev keeps hat-trick bid alive after cruising into Indian Wells last-16

Russian seventh seed is aiming for a third straight title and will face Hurkacz for a place in the quarter-finals

Andrey Rublev plays a forehand to Frances Tiafoe during their third round match at Indian Wells. Getty Images
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Andrey Rublev remained on course for a third straight ATP title after cruising past American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last-16 of the Masters 1000 tournament at Indian Wells.

Rublev arrived in California after winning back-to-back tournaments at the Marseille Open and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and the seventh seed maintained his fine form to produce a solid win over 28th seed Tiafoe.

The 24-year-old Russian will face Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the quarter-finals after the 11th-ranked Pole ended the run of another American, Steve Johnson, 7-6, 6-3 earlier in the day.

It was a more challenging day for Matteo Berrettini, who saved three set points to defeat South African Lloyd Harris 6-4, 7-5, while American Taylor Fritz survived a nearly three-hour battle with Jaume Munar to advance to the last-16 at Indian Wells on Tuesday.

The Wimbledon finalist won 88 per cent of his first serve points and pounded his 12th ace on match point to seal the win on a sunny day in the Southern California desert.

The sixth-seeded Italian was forced to retire with injury during a match in Acapulco last month and looked rusty in his second-round clash against 18-year-old qualifier Holger Rune on Sunday. He was sharper on Tuesday, mixing in deft lobs and drop shots along with his powerful forehand and serve.

Berrettini, 25, is the first Italian man to make the quarter-finals or better at all four majors and said his success on the sport's biggest stages has sparked interest in tennis back in his home country.

"When I was a kid I dreamed of playing tennis, but not at this level. It still makes me feel like, really? It's me?" Berrettini told Tennis Channel. "In Italy I'm getting more and more support. A lot of people have started watching tennis. So it's nice."

Matteo Berrettini battled past Lloyd Harris to reach the Indian Wells Round of 16. AFP

Berrettini will be the favourite when he takes on Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic, who defeated Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets on Tuesday, in the fourth round.

Southern California native Fritz let out a mighty roar after he dealt the knockout blow to end his slugfest with Munar 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 in front of a supportive crowd.

Fritz lived dangerously in the first set, saving seven break points and captured it when the Spaniard double faulted for the first break of serve of the match.

Taylor Fritz needed three sets to defeat Jaume Munar at Indian Wells. AFP

Munar stepped up his serving in the second to force the tight third set, which Fritz won with his 11th ace of the match.

Next up for Fritz in the fourth round is Australian Alex de Minaur, who was a 7-6, 6-4 winner against American Tommy Paul. De Minaur holds a 3-1 lead over Fritz in their previous career meetings.

In other fourth-round action, American John Isner enjoyed a stress-free 7-5, 6-3 win over 14th seed Diego Schwartzman and will next face Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 6:02 AM
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