JAPANESE qualifier Taro Daniel sent five-time tournament champion Novak Djokovic tumbling out of the Indian Wells Masters with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-1 victory on Monday (AEST).
No. 3 Gregor Dimitrov was the first major upset on the men's side of the draw at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday afternoon when Fernando Verdasco beat him 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3.
Djokovic, who returned to the tournament following his elbow operation was yet to come to his best shape.
Djokovic took six months off after Wimbledon previous year and returned in January's Australian Open where he lost in the fourth round.
It was clear early that Djokovic didn't have anything close to his best game, in spite of holding a 5-2 lead in the first set. Daniel will next face Leonardo Mayer, who defeated lucky loser Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-1.
"But, you know, after an opponent like this, to come back from two breaks down, actually, for me it was nearly impossible". His backhand, traditionally his most consistent and game-breaking weapon, bled errors-32 in all.
Watch Full Match ReplaysAt No. 109 in the ATP Rankings, Daniel scored an impressive win over Mackenzie McDonald in the final round of qualifying and followed that up with a victory over an in-form Cameron Norrie on Friday.
Daniel took the first set in a tie-break.
The two-hour-plus match delayed the start of the evening session on centre court, where top seed Federer finally made his first appearance in the event, up against 67th-ranked Argentine Federico Delbonis. "Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything".
"It felt like first match I ever played on the tour".
"It's been a long time since I have been interrupted at night and have to come back the next day", said Federer. After a slow start to the season, the Serbian quickly got some good results reaching Dubai semifinals and now Indian Wells third round.
The Serb failed to serve out the first set, growing the internal seed of doubt and emboldening Daniel, who at last year's US Open took a set from eventual champion Rafael Daniel.
Frenchman Gael Monfils survived a match point before beating big-serving American John Isner 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 in a contest that had only one break.
World number three Marin Cilic also won Sunday, defeating Hungary's Marton Fucsovics in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.