The resilient Japanese, ranked No.109 in the world, overcame a slow start to stun his illustrious opponent 7-6(3) 4-6 6-1 and record his first ever Top 20 victory at the eighth attempt.
It was an afternoon to remember for Daniel, and he will take on Leonardo Mayer in the last 32 on Monday.
Few could have imagined what would unfold after the first eight games of the contest. Djokovic started impressively and eased into a 5-3 lead, but from a position of promise, he inexplicably collapsed.
Rustiness undoubtedly contributed to the Serbian’s sharp drop in standards, but it was his backhand, his prized asset, that was the surprising source of much of his angst.
Of the 61 unforced-errors he committed during the energy-sapping duel, 31 were from his strongest side. The physicality of the points led to Djokovic’s tame showing in the decider, and he can have no complaints about the outcome.
The Serbian was coughing and spluttering throughout his first outing in two months, and illness/allergies could have been a factor behind his curious display.
Earlier in the day, Kyle Edmund’s first match as British No.1 ended in defeat. The 23-year-old, who has also been struggling with illness, fell to Dudi Sela in straight sets.
David Ferrer rarely enjoys success at the first Masters event of the year, however he is safely through to the third round after a 6-2 7-6(3) triumph over Australian Open quarter-finalist, Tennys Sandgren.
John Isner’s poor start to the season continued as he came unstuck against Gael Monfils. The enigmatic Frenchman defeated the big-serving American 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 7-5.
Lucas Pouille suffered a shock defeat to Yuki Bhambri, Feliciano Lopez brushed past Ernesto Escobedo and Philipp Kohlschreiber toppled Tim Smyczek in three sets.