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Djokovic Dominates Nishikori to Win Miami Open for Sixth Time

Djokovic Dominates Nishikori to Win Miami Open for Sixth Time

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator
Novak Djokovic pulled off a three-peat at the Miami Open and won the tournament for the sixth time in his career by defeating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday afternoon. Djokovic got off to a relatively slow start and dropped serve twice in the first set but ended up cruising to the title in one hour and 26 minutes.

Nishikori broke right away at love for a quick 1-0 advantage in the opener only to give it right back. The world No. 1 soon found himself trailing by a break before earning another scalp of the Djokovic serve at 2-4. A somewhat bizarre first set saw Nishikori win eight return points–all of which came in two love service breaks. Djokovic held his other three service games at love.

Set two was more straightforward, with the top-seeded Serb surrendering only four points on serve. Two breaks were more than enough for Djokovic, who coasted to the finish line as Nishikori began struggling with an apparent knee problem.

“I thought he started very well breaking my serve in the first game and coming out with some big forehands and aggressive play,” the champion reflected. “I needed to answer right back, which I did in the following game…which helped me mentally to kind of continue the match in a right way. Because if you’re a break down, 2-0 down, things are a little bit different, obviously–especially against a player like Kei.

“It was best performance of the tournament (today). It came at the right time against a great, quality player.”

“I thought I wasn’t playing too bad,” Nishikori assessed. “But (at the) same time, he played great tennis. So that’s why I couldn’t play what I wanted to play. Also my serve wasn’t going (well) today. So that was [a] shame to have that, because he had a great return. I felt a little pressure on my service game.”


In triumphing, Djokovic gained sole possession of the all-time lead in Masters 1000 titles with 28. He also surpassed Boris Becker for 11th place on the all-time ATP Open Era victories list with 714. Additionally, Djokovic moved past Roger Federer for No. 1 on the career prize money chart and completed the Indian Wells-Miami double for a record fourth time.

“Every year that I come back to Miami, I do go through those memories from back in 2007…the first Masters I won; (it) opened a lot of doors for me, gave me a lot of self-belief,” Djokovic added. “I started to realize that I’m able to win the big trophies and to beat the best players in the world. So of course this is a particular place for me to come back to, now winning it six times. Obviously I don’t take any win for granted, and especially in the big ones.”

Ricky Dimon is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews and writes for You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Azarenka Defeats Kuznetsova to Claim Third Miami Open Title

Azarenka Defeats Kuznetsova to Claim Third Miami Open Title

Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

Victoria Azarenka added her name to the list of women to complete the Indian Wells- Key Biscayne double when the 13th beat 2006 Miami Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday 6-3, 6-2 for the title in 77 minutes. The Belarusian joins Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters as the only women to achieve this feat.

Azarenka, once ranked No. 1 in the world and sidelined with injuries on and off over the past few years.

“The most difficult thing would hold me back was my body wasn’t responding well to training, to matches, and I was unhealthy, I wasn’t fit enough. So that was holding me back. And after I think the point when you reach your goals and (indiscernible) that tip of mentality where you kind of drop your motivation a little bit, if you don’t put the work in it can sway you away.

“I definitely had some difficulties mentally to get back with my motivation, but I never doubted my abilities.”

Despite setbacks, the soon-to-be back into the top five player says she’s back.

“I felt that I played really well,” Azarenka said. “I really took a lot of time away from her and her shots. I didn’t see the statistics, but I think I had a pretty high number of winners today.”

“I think I have played pretty well last year. With my injury I had some pretty good results despite that. So I’m looking forward to putting necessary work in and then go after it.”

“It’s an honor to stand next to those amazing champions,” Azarenka said during the trophy ceremony in regard to reaching a milestone set only by Graf and Clijsters. “This just gives me even more inspiration and motivation to keep working harder, because this feels great.”

Azarenka, a two-time major champion is now 22-1 on the year, her only loss coming to Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the final 8 of Melbourne.

No. 15 seed Kuznetsova upset 8-time Miami Open champion Serena Williams in the fourth round. “It’s quite open, but you have to see how Serena will play,” Kuznetsova said. “If she’s in a good mood, not good mood, good feet, not good feet – you never know.”

“I’d like to congratulate Victoria for doing such a good job this year and in these four weeks,” Kuznetsova said in her runner-up speech both speaking in Spanish and English.

“I want congratulate Sveta for the great result,” Azarenka said.

“I know you’ve had a lot of ups and downs in your career and I’m so happy to see you again in top form producing some great tennis.”

Azarenka dedicated her 20th career title to her family, especially her parents.

Azarenka said that she’s celebrating her title by eating pizza.

The tennis season switches from the hardcourts of the Unites States to the clay courts of mostly Europe next week and Azarenka says she’s ready.

“Definitely very motivated for clay season. I always been a high favorite of proving people wrong, and that’s what also motivates me a lot.

“Going into clay season, people say it’s not my favorite surface and whatever, I’m going to work pretty hard to make sure it’s going to be my favorite surface. I’m going to put in the work that’s needed and the adjustments that’s needed.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Djokovic Gets Past Goffin, Joined by Nishikori in Miami Open Final

Djokovic Gets Past Goffin, Joined by Nishikori in Miami Open Final

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator
Novak Djokovic booked a spot in his 13th consecutive final at the Masters 1000 and World Tour Finals levels by defeating David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-4 in the Miami Open semis on Friday afternoon. Djokovic improved to 27-1 on the season (his only loss has come via retirement) after two hours and five minutes.

Playing in his second straight Masters 1000 semifinal, having reached the same stage in Indian Wells, Goffin got off to a blistering start. The 15th-ranked Belgian survived a marathon service game at 2-3, after which he promptly broke Djokovic for a surprising 4-3 advantage. But the top-seeded Serb broke right back for 4-4 and never relinquished the momentum.

Djokovic gave back a mini-break at 4-3 in the tiebreaker, but he regained the upper hand with a return point at 5-4 before closing out the ‘breaker at 6-5. A more straightforward second set saw the world No. 1 use a single break at 3-3 to get the job done.

“I was aware of the level that he raised his game in last couple of months,” Djokovic said of his opponent. “And the fact that he played the first semifinals of a Masters 1000 event in his career in Indian Wells gave him–obviously–confidence coming into today’s match. I knew he [was] going to try to take his chances; going to try to be aggressive.

“It was evident that we both struggled with conditions today, especially after a tough start that…I think three games went 15 minutes and then the whole first set lasted for (an) hour and 15 minutes. Physically (it was) a great battle; lots of exchanges from the baseline.”

“With Novak you have a lot of balls to hit, and sometimes you’re feeling better game after game,” Goffin commented. “Yeah, that’s why I was feeling good on my baseline, so maybe that’s why it was a good match and it wasn’t scary [going up] against Novak.”

In the nightcap, Kei Nishikori had no fear against a confident Nick Kyrgios. With a remarkably clean performance, the Japanese star quieted the 20-year-old Australian 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 24 minutes.


Nishikori gave back a break midway through the second set with a double-fault, but that was the only occasion on which he dropped serve. The world No. 6 made up for it by breaking Kyrgios at 6-5. He capitalized on his second match point with a lunging forehand volley at the end of an entertaining rally.

“It was tough straight from the get-go,” Kyrgios admitted. “I had pretty much one easy service game, and that was the first game. He’s just playing such good tennis. When he plays me, he plays so aggressive; doesn’t let me dictate points.”

Ricky Dimon is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews and writes for You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Kuzentsova and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Finals

Kuzentsova and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Finals


Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

A pair of former Miami Open winners and two-time major champions have reached the women’s final. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2006 winner of the Miami Open held off Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3. 2009 and 2011 Key Biscayne winner, 13th seed Victoria Azarenka gained a little revenge from the Australian Open by beating No. 2 Angelique Kerber. Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of Melbourne and went on to beat Serena Williams in the final to capture her first major title.

Kuznetsova knocked out eight-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round of Miami and survived four straight three-set wins to reach the semifinal.

The 30-year-old Russian at No. 19 in the world has become the lowest ranked finalist since 2005, when No. 38 Kim Clijsters won the Miami title.

Should Kuznetsova win the title, she would return to the top ten. She talked about her tournament so far.

“I just take match by match and I just go,” she said. “It’s one more match. I’ll play with another amazing opponent. I had great wins this week, but one match, it’s a lot. It’s almost like everything. It’s great, you know.

“I start really well playing in Sydney, and then Australian Open didn’t happen to me to play good there. But I still felt I was in good level. Then I kind of mess up with Fed Cup and all that results. It was not good for me.

“I didn’t feel going in that good shape going to the U.S. swing. I was not feeling confident at all. After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness.

“I’m doing better. I’m appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players. It’s great when things come together. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great week. I’m really pleased and happy the way I fight through all these tournaments and weeks and players.”

On-court after the match, the former French Open and U.S. Open champion said she was happy wrapping up the match in straight sets.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” said Kuznetsova.
“I’m happy I’m still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest.”

Azarenka advanced during the Thursday night session, improving her record this year to 21-1, not dropping a set during the tournament. Should the Belarusian win, she’d become only the third woman player to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in the same year.

Both Azarenka and Kerber produced hard-hitting shots with very exciting rallies. Azarenka had her serve broken, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but won the next two games to close it.

Azarenka broke the German’s serve seven time during the match, hitting 29 winners and only making 16 unforced errors.

“Vika, she is doing amazing,” Kuznetsova said about potentially playing her in the final. “She is extremely prepared. Playing really confident taking all her chances.”

Azarenka is 4-4 against Kuznetsova in head-to-head competition. The last time they faced each other was in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. Azarenka won the match and went on to win her second straight Melbourne crown.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Kyrgios Joins Nishikori in the Miami Open Semifinals

Kyrgios Joins Nishikori in the Miami Open Semifinals

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Kei Nishikori saved five match points before outlasting Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) in a semifinal thriller at the Miami Open on Thursday afternoon. Nishikori withstood 14 aces by his opponent and overcame six double-faults off his own racket to prevail after two hours and 29 minutes.

The high-quality roller-coaster ride saw Monfils recover from a break deficit in the deciding set. With momentum in hand, the world No. 16 put himself within one point of victory on five different occasions. He came close to converting his fourth chance when he tracked down a drop-shot and flicked it cross-court, but Nishikori answered with a winning volley.

“I felt good,” Monfils said when asked about the physical struggle of the third set. “I think I had to raise a bit my level to [hold] my serve at 1-3. Then I think at 3-4 I really raised my level. I think I [started] to be very aggressive, [started] to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it. At the end, I think I pushed very hard. Then definitely I [had] opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well. I think in the ‘breaker he was just better than me.”

It almost, of course, never got to a tiebreaker. Of Monfils’ five match points, four came with Nishikori serving at 4-5 and the last one at 5-6.

“Well, the first one [was] a good serve,” the Frenchman reflected. “Then the second one I [stepped] in, second serve. I [went] aggressive wide and I [missed] maybe (by) 30 or 40 centimeters. Then the third one; second serve. I didn’t go for it so much. I [went] in between, and then he had a very good forehand behind me. Then I think the last one is the one I thought I had…the drop-shot. I think actually this one was the closest one I had.”

“The match could [have gone] both ways,” Nishikori assured. “I was up a break and I had many [chances] to break again. I just [trired] to focus when I lost the game for 4-all. The tiebreak I was [trying] to be [focused] again. Yeah, did pretty good in (the) tiebreak.”

Next up for the world No. 6 is a second career meeting with Kyrgios, whom Nishikori defeated 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 last fall in Shanghai. It will be another contrast in temperaments for Kyrgios after he faced the mentally solid Milos Raonic on Thursday night.

Although the 20-year-old Australian is nothing short of combustible, himself, his trek through the Miami draw has mostly no-nonsense aside from a brief spat with the chair umpire during a fourth-round win over Andrey Kuznetsov. He has also refused to surrender a single set in four victories.

Kyrgios booked a spot in his first-ever Masters 1000 semifinal by upsetting Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 44 minutes. The 24th seed fired eight aces and saved all five of the break points he faced.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Kyrgios commented. “Milos has played great the last couple of weeks; the only person he’s lost to is (Novak) Djokovic. I played really well out here. The crowd was a lot of fun; the atmosphere was really good. I thought the level of tennis was pretty good, as well.”

Ricky Dimon is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews and writes for You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Goffin Books Semifinal Spot Against Djokovic at the Miami Open

Goffin Books Semifinal Spot Against Djokovic at the Miami Open

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Open, David Goffin had never been past the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event. There was no reason to think anything different would transpire when Goffin faced match points against Frances Tiafoe in the Indian Wells second round earlier this month. But he saved both match points, ended up winning in a third-set tiebreaker, and the rest is history.

The red-hot Belgian reached the semifinals in the desert, upsetting Stan Wawrinka in the process before succumbing to Milos Raonic. With momentum in hand, Goffin has accomplished the same feat at the Miami Open. Benefiting from Roger Federer’s withdrawal in what became a wide-open section of the bracket, Goffin capitalized on the opportunity to cruise into the last eight with straight-set defeats of Marcel Granollers, Viktor Troicki, and Horacio Zeballos.

With the competition level ratcheted up in the form of Gilles Simon on Wednesday, Goffin came up with all the answers and recovered from a set deficit to prevail 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 57 minutes. The world No. 15 converted five of six break chances in the final two sets after missing all six of his opportunities in the opener.

“The first set it was tough because it was a good set with a good level,” Goffin reflected. “Gilles was really solid on his baseline, but I didn’t serve really well in the first set. I didn’t have any free points with my serve, so it was tough.

“I knew that the level was there and I had to keep going like this, just to stay more focused on some shots just to finish the points…. Then game after game I was feeling much better. The serve was there in the third set. Yeah, I think with the serve it was the key to win the third.”

Goffin will obviously have to do everything well in his semifinal showdown against Novak Djokovic on Friday. Djokovic, who has not lost this season by anything other than retirement (to Feliciano Lopez in Dubai), cruised past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday night.


The top-seeded Serb got broken only once, just as he did against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday. But this time around it was far more straightforward; Djokovic had to fight off a slew of break points (14 of 15 was the final tally) in the fourth round before facing only three with Berdych on the other side of the net.

“The opening three or four games went over 20 minutes,” Djokovic commented. “We both started with great intensity and concentration. I think we made each other play a lot…. I just managed to keep my composure and play the right shots at the right time.”

On the other side of the draw, Milos Raonic will battle Nick Kyrgios on Thursday while Kei Nishikori squares off against Gael Monfils.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews and writes for You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Kerber and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Semis

Kerber and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Semis


Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

Victoria Azarenka stands two wins away from achieving the rare Indian Wells- Miami double. The 13th seed and two-time major winner defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Only two women have won Indian Wells and Miami in the same year and they are Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996.

“If I’m able to make it, it’s great,” Azarenka said after the match. “It seems so close, but it’s really far. I want to stay in the present. I want to continue to fight and keep getting better.”

“Great player,” Azarenka said of Konta. “I was very impressed with her improvement taking from last year and seeing how well she’s handling the pressure and going in big stages and playing really well. That’s impressive. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of her in the future.

“I think especially for England not having women player stand out, she’s going to be the one, I think.”

“I think it’s exciting to watch her journey and see happens. She’s definitely playing top 10 level right now.”

The Belarusian who has struggled with injuries the last few years said that she always believed in herself but she still hasn’t reached her peak. “I never doubt my abilities,” said the 2009 and 2011 Miami Open winner. “What came to my mind is definitely after being for so long injured, the doubt was to get healthy. So always been a little bit on my mind.

“But I still feel that I’m far from my best, and that’s what’s really exciting for me, to be motivated, to keep improving. Everybody has doubts. We’re human beings. I always trust my ability and I believe in myself.”

Azarenka will face-off against No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber who defeated No. 22 Madison Keys 6-3, 6-2 in the evening session.

For the reigning Australian Open champion Kerber, this will be her first semifinal in Miami.

Kerber dominated her American opponent, Keys made 39 unforced errors during the match. Kerber rushed need just a little over an hour to complete the victory.

“It’s nice to play a match like this,” Kerber said. “I was feeling good. Madison is always a tough opponent. I know this because we had a lot of tough battles in the past.

“I knew that I must play very good to beat her because she played very well here in the last few matches. So it’s good. It’s good.”

She continued: “I was really trying to stay focus(ed) and stay really concentrate point by point and actually trying to really only focusing on points, on point by point.

“Because I know the tennis game, and sometimes one ball can change and turn around the match. That was my goal: to be focus(ed) and playing my game until the last point.”
Kerber notched her first win over Azarenka in the most recent quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Coming into that match, the Belarusian had a 6-0 advantage over the German.
“I went out there and trying to be really aggressive from the first point, trying to really believe in myself, because until this time I never won the match against her,” Kerber said. “It was 0-6; now it’s 1-6. I will try to go out there again like in Australia and try to believe in my game and myself and, yeah, trying to challenge her.

“It will be not easy. It will be tough match. But this is for what I am practicing, for the big matches out there, to really show what, yeah, we can do and playing the best tennis.

“So I’m really looking forward to play against her again this year.”

As for playing Azarenka in the next round, Kerber said: “She had a great start of the year, of course. She is like, yeah, on fire I think right now. I will just trying to play my game go out and try to beat her. I mean, we played two times already this year and that’s the third time.

“Yeah, I will try to enjoy it. I know that I must play really my best tennis to beat her because she won Indian Wells; she’s here now in the semis.

“Yeah, I will try to take this challenge against her.”

The other semifinal which will take place on Thursday will pit No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round, against No. 19 seed Timea Bacsinszky who knocked out two straight top 5 seeds to reach the final four.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Bacsinszky Upsets Halep at the Miami Open

Bacsinszky Upsets Halep at the Miami Open


Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

The women’s upsets continued at the Miami Open on Tuesday when No. 5 seed Romanian Simona Halep lost to No. 19 seed Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The Swiss player backed up her defeat of the No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round for her second straight win over top five players.

It marked the first time that Bacsinszky had even taken a set off of Halep.
For the Swiss, it’s been five years since she last made an appearance at Key Biscayne and this year, making the semifinals is by far the longest run she’s made in the tournament.

After Halep took a tight first set, Bacsinszky jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set to take control. The Swiss notched two breaks early in the third set to go up 3-0 and never had to look back.

After her first service break in the second set, rain halted play for 10 minutes.

Bacsinszky’s effective use of the slice, movement and varied game, put her opponent off guard throughout most of the almost two-and-a-half-hour match.

“Well, in the second set I think I was pushing her to play long rallies,” she said. “I was like probably trying to hide where I was playing; then she was like — she couldn’t be able to guess if it was on the backhand or the forehand.

“Well, even though I felt that she raised her level and her intensity at the end the second set, I stayed — I’m happy that I stayed really strong. I felt that she was like going up, pushing, pushing, but I showed that, Okay, I’m here. I know you’re pushing, but I can keep the level.

“Then it helped me a lot for the third set. I raised then probably my intensity at the beginning of the third set and it made a big gap between us.”

With Halep out, the only top ten seed left in the women’s draw is No. 2 Angelique Kerber.

“The ranking is only a number,” said the Swiss in reference to beating two top five players, “so sometimes you can play very good, better than your ranking, and sometimes less good than your ranking is.

“So for the next match, I mean, obviously for sure it gives me a big confidence to have those two wins, but it doesn’t change that I’m going to have a fierce opponent and it’s going to be tough.

“I just hope I’m going to be able to play well — I mean, not especially well, but be efficient in the next match. Hopefully I win the last point. If not, then it’s okay. I’ll try for the next tournament.”

Bascinszky will next play Russian No. 15 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the finals. Kuznetsova is fresh off of her win over No. 1 Serena Williams in the fourth round. In a topsy-turvy match, Kuznetsova defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

In the first set Kuznetsova lead 5-2, 40-0 and also served for the set at 5-4 but could not close the set when errors crept into her game, especially on her powerful forehand side. Makarova took advantage and won the set in a tiebreak 7-6(3).

Kuznetsova was broken serving for the second set at 5-3, but broke Makarova right back for the third break in the set to even the match at one-set all.

The two-time major winner started off the third set, digging out of a break point to hold then break for a 2-0 lead. Makarova got the break back in the seventh game drawing closer to her countrywoman at 3-4. Kuznetsova battles for the break back and served for the match at 5-3. This time the 15th seed held to close out the match in two-hours and forty-four minutes.

Kuznetsova has a 2-0 record against Bacsinszky. Their last meeting came in 2012 at Indian Wells when the Swiss retired down 6-3, 2-0.

For Kuznetsova, who won the Miami Open in 2006, this will be her first trip to the semifinals since 2009. Should Kuznetsova win the tournament, she would move back into the WTA top ten.

Wednesday’s women’s quarterfinal match-ups will pit 13th seed Victoria Azarenka against 24th seed Johanna Konta and No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber faces No. 22 seed Madison Keys.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Djokovic Escapes Thiem to Advance to Miami Open Quarterfinals

Djokovic Escapes Thiem to Advance to Miami Open Quarterfinals

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

The record will indicate that Novak Djokovic made routine work of Dominic Thiem during fourth-round action at the Miami Open on Wednesday afternoon. A more accurate picture, however, is painted by both the statistics and the eye test. Anyone who was in attendance surely appreciated the entertaining affair to which they were treated, even though Djokovic got the job done in seemingly dominant 6-3, 6-4 fashion.

A much different story could have unfolded if Thiem had been able to come up with the goods at the critical junctures. Instead, the 22-year-old Austrian squandered 14 of 15 break points and the only one he converted came courtesy of a Djokovic double-fault.

In the opening set, Thiem survived a three-deuce game and saved one set point to hold for 3-5. He then had four break points to get back on serve, but Djokovic battled trough a four-deuce game to seal the deal. With the top-seeded Serb serving for the match at 5-4 in the second, he fought off four more break points, navigated seven deuces, and finally converted a fourth match point to triumph after one hour and 49 minutes.

“It [was] going to end sooner or later,” Djokovic commented. “Generally I don’t face that many break points, but conversion of break points from my opponent today was only one out of [15], so that’s a positive in a way. But I’ll try not to get myself in those positions too much…. It was a straight-set win, but far from easy. It was a tough match.”

“Today (there) were positive and negative things,” Thiem posted on Facebook. “I can take advantage of (them) in the future…. I couldn’t take advantage of my [break points]; I only converted one out of 15; that’s [not enough], especially when your opponent is the No. 1 in the world.

“Nevertheless, I am happy about my performance here in Miami; I was able to gain some new experience and now I am heading, of course a little bit disappointed, back home. Next up, clay-court season!”

The hard-court proceedings will continue at least one more one more round for Djokovic, and for Gael Monfils. Joining Djokovic in the quarterfinals by also prevailing on Tuesday were Monfils, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios, Tomas Berdych, Gilles Simon, and David Goffin. Monfils recovered from a set deficit to outlast Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in a day-session match that went well into the night.

After going down an immediate break in the third set, the Frenchman broke right back and earned another scalp of the Dimitrov serve at 4-3 before closing the door at love in emphatic fashion. By lasting exactly two and a half hours, it forced the Kei Nishikori vs. Roberto Bautista Agut showdown to be moved from the stadium to the Grandstand.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open

Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

First it was Roger Federer. Then it was Rafael Nadal. And the hits have kept coming at the Miami Open.

Federer withdrew from the tournament due to illness, while Nadal could not get through his first match because of issues related to the heat. David Ferrer followed his fellow Spaniard out of South Beach by losing to Lucas Pouille on Sunday night. On the women’s side, Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska both lost on Monday afternoon. The carnage continued when Andy Murray succumbed to Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-3 during third-round action.

Dimitrov trailed 3-1 in the final set but reeled off five straight games to wrap up the victory in impressive style after two hours and 25 minutes. It was a much-needed result–and one of his best ever–for the Bulgarian, who currently registers 20 spots off his career-high ranking at 28th in the world. He had not defeated a top-10 opponent since upsetting then-No. 9 Stan Wawrinka at the Monte-Carlo Masters last spring. This is Dimitrov’s second-even win at the expense of a top-2 opponent, having previously stunned world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on the clay courts of Madrid in 2013.

“I’m happy,” Dimitrov assured. “Of course I’m happy with that victory. Every time you beat a top player you know you must have done something good.

“I played quite a few times against [Murray]. I think we know our games pretty well. I just played better in the good moments today. That’s it. I think I was just a smart player throughout the course of the whole match. Even though I lost the first set, I kept a good composure…. I think when I was 3-1 down in the third set, I really felt that I know I’m going to get another chance because I was returning well, playing very good in the key moments.”

Murray played a near-flawless first-set tiebreaker, but he struggled in the pressure-packed moments throughout the duration of the proceedings. After trailing 4-0 in the second set, he had a break point to get back on level terms at 5-5 but could not convert. The Scot also dropped his last three service games of the match without even getting to deuce a single time.

“(I made) a lot of unforced errors in the third set for sure,” Murray lamented. “Obviously (I) didn’t start the second set particularly well. After winning a close first set you obviously want to try and put your opponent under pressure. Credit to him. He was more solid than me…. Physically it was okay. I mean, the conditions were actually not that bad today. It was just humid. Obviously the cloud cover helped. It was just very, very humid. Physically I was okay.”

Dimitrov will have to be ready for another physical battle against Gael Monfils on Tuesday. Monfils has enjoyed a much more routine trek through the Miami draw, having disposed of Tatsuma Ito and Pablo Cuevas in easy straight sets. Dimitrov, on the other hand, preceded his triumph over Murray by outlasting Federico Delbonis 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 39 minutes.

Joining Dimitrov and Monfils in the last 16 were Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Andrey Kuznetsov.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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