INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – Facing an opponent he had never seen play, Novak Djokovic relied on some old-fashioned word of mouth.
Asking around the locker room and getting some intel from his coach, Djokovic went out and beat Alejandro Gonzalez 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Tuesday, ending the Colombian’s surprising run to the third round at the BNP Paribas Open.
“It took me a little bit to get used to it,” Djokovic said. “You’ve got new faces and new players who are able to challenge the top guys, and this is good for the sport. It also makes us work harder and improve trying to get our game to a high level because the guys are coming up.”
Djokovic, a two-time champion at Indian Wells, earned the only two breaks of the third set, including a seven-deuce game that he closed out with a clever backhand drop volley.
Gonzalez had never won an ATP Tour match in six tries before Indian Wells. He won third-set tiebreakers in his first two matches here before keeping the world’s second-ranked man on the court for just over 1½ hours.
“I just had a big loss of concentration and allowed him to win the second set for no reason,” Djokovic said. “Bounced back better in the third, but I obviously cannot allow myself to have these particular concentration lapses in the match at this level.”
Djokovic had 28 winners to 11 for Gonzalez, who also had 23 unforced errors in his first Masters 1000 event.
Djokovic next plays 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who beat 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3. The Serb is the highest remaining seed left after top-seeded Rafael Nadal was upset by Alexandr Dolgopolov a day earlier.
John Isner, the lone American remaining in the men’s draw, defeated Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3 to reach the fourth round. Isner fired 13 aces, hit 32 winners and gained the only two breaks of the match. Lu managed just nine winners and never had a break point against Isner.
Top-seeded woman Li Na defeated Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-1, 6-4, setting up a quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia that will be a rematch of the Australian Open final, which Li won in straight sets.
Li rallied from a 0-3 deficit in the second set, winning six of the final seven games. The last game went to deuce 10 times before Li won on her 11th match point when Wozniak’s backhand sailed long.
“I can only say, ‘Welcome to the crazy women’s tennis tour,’ ” Li said about the last game.
Jelena Jankovic routed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals in a matchup of former tournament champions and No. 1-ranked players.
Jankovic next plays second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat 22nd-seeded Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-3.
Jankovic made the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the Indian Wells title in 2010, when she beat Wozniacki. The Dane won the title in 2011 and lost to Maria Sharapova in last year’s final.
But she offered little resistance against Jankovic, who raced to a 5-0 lead in the second set before Wozniacki held at 40-0 to avoid getting shut out in front of her fiance, golfer Rory McIlroy.
“I kind of found my way, found my rhythm, and I was striking the ball very well out there and took control of the points,” Jankovic said. “I just did not let her play what she plays. That was very important.”
Jankovic was the world’s top-ranked player in 2008. Wozniacki reached the top spot in 2010; she’s now No. 12. Jankovic, who is ranked eighth, was the first top-10 player Wozniacki has faced so far this year.
Jankovic ended a five-match skid against Wozniacki, with the Serb having recovered from a back problem that occurred in her match two nights earlier. Jankovic didn’t hit on Monday and felt too stiff to put her shoes on.
“I went on court today not knowing how I was going to feel, if I was going to be limited with my movement or if I was going to play my game,” she said. “But I did and I was surprised.”
Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi failed to build on her upset of defending champion Maria Sharapova, losing to countrywoman Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-1.
American Lauren Davis withdrew from her match against qualifier Casey Dellacqua of Australia because of a gastrointestinal illness. Dellacqua advanced to the quarters against No. 6 seed Simona Halep of Romania, who beat Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
In other men’s matches, 30th-seeded Fernando Verdasco beat No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1; and Roberto Bautista Agut beat Jarkko Nieminen, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6).