Guido Pella produced an excellent comeback after being just two points away from defeat to take out Kyle Edmund in three sets 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5.
This was the first meeting between the pair, with Edmund ranked 42 places below his Argentinean opponent, but four years his junior. Pella has made a great start to 2016, reaching a career high of 40 this week following his run to the final of the Rio Open. This terrific run in the ATP Tour 500 event included wins over two top 20 players, defeating world number 11 John Isner in the last 32 and then defeating the in form world number 19 Dominic Thiem in straights sets in the semifinals.
The players had contrasting build ups to this event following last weekends Davis Cup action. Pella won his singles rubber for Argentina against Poland, defeating Michal Przyslezny 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(5). Meanwhile, Edmund missed out on representing Great Britain for the second time in their World Group win against Japan after suffering a back injury in training last week.
Excellent Start For Edmund
It was Edmund who made the initial breakthrough on a sparsely populated Stadium 2 court, looking on course to take the first set when leading 4-3 with a break. Pella displayed the brand of tennis which took him to the final in Rio to turn the score line around, breaking back, before holding to take a 5-4 lead.
Edmund, making his debut in the main draw at Indian Wells, had another great chance to get ahead and take the first set after earning 0-30 on Pella's serve. The Argentinean responded with heavy ground strokes, forcing the errors from the Brit to hold to regain the lead at 6-5. After a few cheap errors from the world number 40, the players were into a first set tiebreak.
The British number three made the perfect start, punishing the Argentinean after he made cheap errors, while also inflicting his own damage off of the forehand wing, which he used to devastating effect down the line to take a 4-0 lead. Edmund remained strong behind his serve, heading for the change of ends with a 5-1 lead.
The depth from the world number 82 was excellent, leaving Pella with no chance as he brought up five set points. The Argentinean saved the first with an ace and saved another after an error from the Brit, but Edmund drew the desired mistake from his opponent to claim the tiebreak 7-3.
Servers' Struggle In The Second Set
Edmund came through a real battle in the fifth game of the second set, recovering from 0-30 and break point down, using his forehand to great effect once more.
The missed opportunity in the previous game looked to have affected Pella as he too found himself, 0-30 and break point down, with untimely double faults causing him real trouble. However, a couple of aces and a few errors from the Brit allowed the Argentinean to secure a pivotal hold as far as his hopes were concerned in this first round encounter.
There were plenty of break points to go round in the second set, as Pella had an opportunity for the second successive return game. Frustrations continued for the world number 40 after he drove the return of serve long to squander the chance and allow Edmund to remain in front at 4-3.
The pattern of struggling to hold serve continued for the Brit as Pella continued his quest to get ahead at 15-40. Once again Edmund held firm, firing down to big unreturned first serves. There was to be no escape on this occasion though, with the Argentinean raising his level with his forehands hitting the mark, finally securing the break which left him serving for the set at 5-4. The world number 40 duly obliged, taking it into a decider.
Edmund Edges Closer To The Winning Line
Edmund suffered further disappointment after the manner in which the second set slipped away, missing a break point chance in Pella's opening service game.
After a series of relatively easy holds for both men it was Edmund who made the crucial a breakthrough. The Brit capitalized on a double fault and a punished a weak second serve to help secure the break and take a 5-3 lead.
Serving for the match did not go to plan for the Indian Wells debutante, as he overcooked several forehands to throw away his serve and grant the Argentinean a lifeline.
Pella Takes Control
The 21-year-old came closer to securing the match in the following game, up 0-30 and at deuce on Pella's serve, but once again he was left frustrated as he missed shots at the big moments, allowing the world number 40 to hold for 5-5.
Edmund's lack of confidence and willingness to come forward to the net was on full display in his next service game, allowing his more experienced opponent to take advantage and secure a second successive service break.
From there the world number 82's game unraveled, as he continued to produce errors. This resulted in the world number 40 securing victory in three sets 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5. A disappointing defeat for Edmund, a match which got away from him. Pella goes on to face Pablo Cuevas in the second round.