Jiri Lehecka earned his first ATP Masters 1000 win on Wednesday at the BNP Paribas Open with a battling performance against Arthur Rinderknech. The 21-year-old Czech scored a 7-6(4), 7-5 victory in his second appearance at the prestigious level, having qualified for Monte Carlo last season.
Sixth seed Andrey Rublev awaits in the second round for what will be the pair’s third ATP Head2Head matchup. Both of their past meetings went three sets, with Rublev winning last April in Belgrade and Lehecka returning the favour last month in Doha.
Against Rinderknech, Lehecka twice came back from a break down in the opening set before saving two set points on serve at 5-6. He never trailed in the tie-break and raced out to a 3-0 lead in set two, though his French opponent levelled the second at 4-4. Lehecka’s fourth break of the match, on his seventh break point, sealed the win.
The World No. 47 Lehecka has backed up his runner-up finish to the Next Gen ATP Finals last November with a strong start to 2023, highlighted by a breakout run to the Australian Open quarter-finals. He also reached the semi-finals in Doha, losing a three-set thriller to Andy Murray after defeating Rublev one round earlier.
If he can get past Rublev again in Indian Wells, Lehecka would meet 25th seed Denis Shapovalov or Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the third round.
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China’s Wu Yibing also advanced on Day 1 of main-draw play in Indian Wells, with the 23-year-old claiming a 6-7(6), 6-0, 7-6(3) win against Spain’s Jaume Munar. His reward is another Spanish opponent: 23rd seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Wu was competing at an ATP Masters 1000 for the first time since Shanghai 2018, where he picked up a win as a wild card. He faced just two break points in the match, with Munar converting one in the opening set and the second in the final set.
After employing a backhand drop shot on match point, Wu sealed the deal in dramatic fashion with a diving volley.
The victory extends his tour-level win streak to seven matches after he claimed his maiden ATP Tour title in Dallas last month, beating Taylor Fritz and John Isner in the final two rounds. Each of his past three wins have come in three sets.
Wu, who already holds the honour of being China’s highest-ranked man in history, moved another four places to No. 63 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings with today’s win.