Right Struff: Ailing Zverev toppled at Indian Wells


Indian Wells (United States) (AFP)

Ailing world number three Alexander Zverev was sent spinning out of the ATP Indian Wells Masters Monday, falling in straight sets to 55th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff.

Struff had lost all four prior encounters against his fellow German, but he made quick work of the 21-year-old star, breaking him once in the first set and three times in the second to win in 70 minutes.

"I've been sick for a week," said Zverev, who lost the Acapulco final to Australian Nick Kyrgios the week before Indian Wells began. "That hasn't changed, unfortnately.

"I think I just got unlucky, I got a virus somewhere and that's how it is."

Zverev, the owner of three Masters 1000 titles who has never made it to the quarter-finals at Indian Wells, said he would now focus on recuperating and preparing for the Miami Masters, where he'll be hoping to improve on his runner-up finish to John Isner last year.

"Now it's about getting healthy and about recovering and preparing myself for Miami, because Miami is the tournament I do well in, history-wise," he said. "Here I have always struggled."

Struff next faces 13th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who rallied from 4-1 down in the third set to beat US qualifier Marcos Giron 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Giron, 25, looked set to claim the biggest win of a career that has been hindered by two hip operations when he took a 4-1 lead in the third set.

But Raonic, runner-up at Indian Wells in 2016, called on all of his experience to turn things around against the American, who had never won two ATP Tour matches in a row until this week.

"He came up with the goods and definitely pushed me sort of to the brink there where I was getting a little bit frustrated," Raonic said.

"I just kept trying to plug away. There were two games that I had break chances to get back into the third, and I didn't make it count. Luckily I made the last two count.

"I'm proud of the way I competed today. That's what got me through," said Raonic, who fell to Struff in the first round at Dubai last month.

World number one Novak Djokovic, playing his first tournament since grabbing a record seventh Australian Open title in January, headlined the night session in a third-round clash with Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Djokovic has won eight of his nine career encounters with the German veteran ranked 39th in the world, including matches at Indian Wells in 2008, 2010 and 2016.

The Serb star's second-round victory over Bjorn Fratangelo was his 50th at Indian Wells, where he's trying to break out of a tie with Roger Federer for most titles by claiming a sixth.

In other early matches, 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic defeated India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).

The Croatian veteran will face the winner between seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem and France's Gilles Simon.