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Djokovic Withstands Murray for A Fifth Miami Open Trophy

Djokovic Withstands Murray for A Fifth Miami Open Trophy

IMG_8889_DjokovicThe 30th edition of the men’s final at the Miami Open was contested between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Yet again, Djokovic outlasted Murray 7-6, 4-6, 6-0 to bank his fifth title in South Florida.

In January at the Australian Open final, Djokovic manhandled his counterpart 6-0 in the fourth set to claim the trophy. The second Masters 1000 of the year was a chance for Murray to apply the brakes on a seven match skid against Djokovic against, he had an 8-17 record. Moreover, since his triumph in the 2013 Wimbledon final, Murray is 0-11 versus the combination of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

With a forehand crosscourt winner, Murray manufactured a break point in the opening game. Although Djokovic held, for the Brit, this was a positive development. The next time Murray had break point, he struck an overhead winner for a 2-1 lead.

But, Murray’s advantage was short-lived. The Brit failed to consolidate ahead 40-30. As Djokovic misfired on three backhands in the seventh game, Murray broke at love for 4-3. Swiftly, it was Djokovic’s turn at triple break point and he leveled the set. With no further break points on offer, the opening set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Murray‘s caution at this juncture resulted in miscues. Courtesy of that generosity, Djokovic stormed to a 4-0 edge and ultimately with ease secured the first set.

In the third game of the second set, Djokovic had opportunities to tighten the rope around Murray’s neck with four break points. However, by serving well, the Brit recovered and kept the score in his favor for 2-1.

With the score 4 all and 40-30, Murray was given a time violation warning. This could have derailed him. Yet, the two time Miami Open champion overcame that distraction to hold for 5-4.

Soon, Murray blazed a forehand crosscourt winner off an overhead from Djokovic for 0-40. Then, with the Brit crushing a second serve backhand return crosscourt for a winner, a decisive set was needed to determine the victor.

The bipartisan crowd could hardly contain its glee as cries of “come on Nole or come on Murray” reverberated throughout the stadium. The public was salivating at the prospect of these two warriors dueling to the death.

The last couple of years, Djokovic has mastered the art of wrestling momentum away from his rivals. Once again, Murray learned there was no mercy for miscues.

In an opening game where Murray had game point, Djokovic capitalized on his opponent‘s sleuth of errors to come away with the break. After the Serb consolidated for 2-0, Murray double faulted to stare at 0-40. Despite getting to deuce, Murray could not overcome three more break points. Hard to phantom, but in a 48 minute set, Murray failed to post a single game.

Although the forecast was 75 and partly cloudy, it felt closer to 90 on the court. According to Murray, “I struggled physically, I played well for a couple of sets. I wasn’t getting in the right positions to hit the ball in the last set”.

Djokovic agreed “brutal conditions for both of us. First set was really up and down. We tried to stay mentally tough, hang in there, battle and wear down the other player physically. There were lots of long rallies. I was expecting that coming into the match. It wasn’t really great tennis, a lot of unforced errors. But in these conditions you just want to extend the punching exchange and wait for the opportunities.”

Despite residing and training part of the year in South Florida , Murray could not find his legs to make that last push “here more than most places, it’s draining because of the humidity. . .Part of being a professional athlete is dealing with those different conditions and making adjustments.”

Murray doesn’t attribute his flaming out to his past medical issues “I’ve trained as hard as I can. Maybe I could have hydrated a little bit better. He was stronger than me at the end.”

At one end of the court, in the opening set, the sun was a factor which perhaps killed Murray‘s chances “I would say until the end of the first set, it wasn’t an advantage serving… It’s one thing hitting the first serve significantly slower, but looking at bright light, the first shot of the rally when it comes back, your site is a bit off.”

Despite the outcome, Murray believes there are encouraging lessons to take away compared to Indian Wells “I made the match harder for him, I did many things better. I was going for my shots a bit more. I played a good match tactically.”

Djokovic has dominated his rival of late. Still, he expressed “I’m aware of his qualities and the tennis he can play, the shots, the talent he possesses. He’s also a multiple Grand Slam winner and knows how to perform on the big stage. He deserves respect and to be in the finals of big events. We play similar styles of game so we push each other. It’s like playing cat and mouse trying to outplay and outsmart him in certain types of point.”

Consequently, Djokovic is a tough puzzle for Murray to crack because he is an enhanced prototype. As Murray put it “he serves well, he moves exceptionally well. He’s in great shape and he hits the ball well off both sides. That’s why he’s the number one player in the world. In a couple of matches we’ve played this year, I felt like I’ve been able to hang with him, but not quite for long enough unfortunately.”

As far as his recent successes, the world number one expressed “I could not ask for a better start to the season winning three big titles. I’m probably playing the tennis of my life, feeling confident and physically fit. Hopefully, I’m able to use this for the clay court coming up. I’m aware that this cannot go on forever. I’m going to try to stay as long as I can on top and fight for the biggest titles”

At 27, both players have had triumphant careers. But, with his win at the Australian Open, Djokovic became the first player since 1968 to collect five prizes Down Under. Today, with his 22nd masters shield, he accomplished for a third time the Indian Wells-Miami Open double, something that had never been done. Moreover, Djokovic is one Masters 1000 title away from tying Federer in the number two spot.

On the historical perspective, Djokovic commented “it’s nice and flattering to hear that I have achieved another record. Any achievement that goes into the history books I’m hugely proud of and appreciate because I work hard for it and I do cherish it. It allows me to motivate myself even more.” Next year, at the Miami Open, the bar for Djokovic will be equalizing Andre Agassi’s record with a sixth title.

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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title

Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title

IMG_9003_SerenaBy choosing South Florida as her base and lifting the trophy on seven prior occasions, the Miami Open is Serena Williams’ home. Consequently, this afternoon, first time finalist Carla Suarez Navarro needed to play the match of her career to steal the title from the two time defending champion. Williams romped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 for a third successive Miami Open trophy, her eighth overall.

After coasting through the early stages, Serena averted close calls in the quarterfinals and semifinals. First, Williams fought off Sabine Lisicki 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, the player who ended her bid as defending champion for a sixth Wimbledon prize in 2013.

Next up, the world number one clashed with Simona Halep, the 2015 titlist at Indian Wells. Ironically, the Romanian received a walkover into the final from Williams at that event because of an inflamed knee. A match fit Serena battled herself, her opponent and the Romanian partisans but eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

The opening game was a glimpse of how the proceedings would unfold as Serena held at love. For a short time, Suarez Navarro managed to keep up and in the fifth game was at 30-30. However, with two aces, Serena moved ahead 3-2.

After the Spaniard dismissed double break point, Serena provoked a few errors and capitalized on her third break point. The American easily consolidated for 5-2. With another break, 17 winners, 8 unforced errors and in just 32 minutes, Williams secured the set.

Prior to the second set, Suarez Navarro conferred with her coach. His advice was to “change the rhythm, serve better, get the shots deeper”. Consequently, the first game of the second set, the Spaniard arrived at break point. But, with an ace, Serena dismissed the sole break point she stared at the entire match. Swiftly, Suarez Navarro surrendered the next game. The Spaniard won only two more points in the remainder of the match.

Suarez Navarro has yet to capture a set from the world number one in their five meetings. Moreover, this was Serena‘s fifth love set.

There were mixed feelings for Suarez Navarro after she shocked Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, then dispatched world number nine Andrea Petkovic to advance to the biggest final of her career, at one of only four mandatory premier tournaments.

The 26 year old expressed “ I came into the final with the firm belief that she could win.. . It was difficult to compete with her, I tried to be solid, however, with her strength it proved to be impossible.”

Still, Suarez Navarro affirms that “Serena is not unbeatable, she has more experience and success. People are aware that she beatable. But you have to play at a high level. My plan is keep believing and to work hard.”

Despite the score, Suarez Navarro attested that “ I enjoyed the tournament. it’s worth the pain, I fought till the end, you learn from these moments”. For her efforts, when the rankings are released, Suarez Navarro will be rewarded with the number 10 spot. Furthermore, she is the first Spanish female in the top ten since Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Every time Serena step on the court, she climbs a new benchmark. This week, she joined the exclusive 700 wins club, only the eighth female player to reach that mark.

In 2013, she surpassed Steffi Graf‘s all time record of five trophies at the Miami Open. Following her tenth final at the Miami Open, with losses only to Venus in 1999 and Victoria Azarenka in 2009, Serena cited “it feels really good to have eight under my belt. Can’t say I thought I would win, especially at the beginning of the week. . .each one is special. Some finals are long; some finals have been shorter. At the end, each one is a lot of hard work. ”

Yet, Williams’ celebration was muted “I was so focused out there today. When you’re winning 5-Love, 40-Love, it’s not a surprise. . .you’ve kind of accepted that you’re going to win . . . It’s different if it’s 5-All or 7-5. You don’t know which way it’s going to turn.”

Serena is only the fourth WTA competitors to bank the same title at least eight times. Will she be aiming for twelve at the Miami Open? Martina Navratilova won Chicago that many times “I hope not. Because I would still be here  I would be how old? Let’s pray that I don’t get to 12.”

With her 66th career prize, Serena is one title away from knotting Billie Jean King at number six on the roll call. Serena’s goal for the clay season “ I just want to stay consistent and get a little more fit. . . you have longer matches. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking to have fun.”

By collecting her 19th major at the Australian Open, Serena is for the sixth time in a position to pull off the calendar grand slam. Furthermore, Jennifer Capriati was the last person to hold both the French and Australian in 2001 “I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve never done it. . .I don’t think it’s necessarily tough. I just think that sometimes the tournament’s hard and you fall at the wrong time.”

For now, Serena will relish her recent triumph in Miami. Who knows one day instead of stadium court, it will be Serena Williams Stadium.

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Murray Tops Berdych to Advance to Miami Open Final

Murray Tops Berdych to Advance to Miami Open Final

Tennis - 2015 ATP World Tour 1000 - Miami Open - Key Biscayne, USA - Day 7 - Sunday 29 March 2015Two-time Miami Open champion Andy Murray has advanced to his fourth Miami Open final.

The third seed took out Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4 to book a spot in Sunday’s finals. Murray will face the winner of the second semifinal match between 2014 Miami Open defending champion Novak Djokovic and John Isner. Murray last claimed the Miami title in 2013.

“I felt like I served well,” Murray said after the match. “It was tricky from one end of the court. We’re basically serving right into the sun at that time of day, so I had to take a little bit off the serve. On the second serve it was very tough to see.”

With regard to his previous matches against Berdych, Murray commented “I’ve played him on the clay obviously I found it tricky against him. We played a couple times when the conditions have been extremely heavy. He’s a big, big guy. When the conditions are like that, he can still generate a lot of force, a lot of power. But, you know, when I’ve played him on some of the quicker surfaces, I feel like I’ve been able to hit through the court and make him move a lot.”

Early in the tournament Murray claimed his 500 career match win when he bounced Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.

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Djokovic and Nishikori March on to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open

Djokovic and Nishikori March on to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open

Djokoivc_MO_RFIn search of his third double-double, the combination of Indian Wells and Miami Open trophies, Novak Djokovic took another step forward today in beating Steve Darcis 6-0, 7-5 to move into the round of 16.

There is not much to discuss about an opening set, where the world number one posted a bagel against his peer. After Djokovic seized seven successive games, Darcis at last made his presence felt in the second set.

The 31 year old qualifier, in his maiden third round at the Miami Open, overcame three break points before holding serve for 2 all. As Djokovic continued to push, Darcis again was made to work to level the score in the sixth game.

The possibility of a third set became imminent as the Belge broke for 5-4 and had the opportunity to steal a set. However, the four time champion was in no mood for a decisive set. Djokovic took the next three games to dash any of his rival’s hopes.

Djokovic acknowledged that the second set was a tad hairy “the drop of the intensity and the fact that I didn’t use the opportunities early [on] resulted in a close second set. He’s got a lot of variety, especially from the backhand side, he slices pretty well. I was handling it really good, then started to make some unforced errors, complicated my own life. But at the end of the day, it’s a win.”

All players go through periods of self doubt as Rafael Nadal confessed when he loss to Fernando Verdasco. Djokovic admits that he is not the exception “more or less every single match you go through these moments. We are all humans and go through emotional ups and downs depending on the quality and intensity of the match. I understand what [Nadal] is talking about because I’m playing for many years at this high level and I know [the] pressure and expectations [that go along]. It’s normal to have periods of crisis, feel more doubt than confidence in important moments and you lose a couple of matches. I’m sure Nadal is somebody who knows exactly how to deal with this particular situation and how to get better.”

Next, Djokovic takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov. A quarterfinalist in 2014, the Ukranian defeated Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets.

Looking ahead, Djokovic cited “he’s feeling good. He likes this surface, a bit slower court with higher bounce. He has a very quick dynamic motion on the serve and can serve very big for somebody of his height. I know what to expect. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start as well as I did in the first two matches, but end it in a bit different way.”

In the opening match of the grandstand, Kei Nishikori needed only 63 minutes to send off Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-2. Also in action was Spaniard David Ferrer. The 2013 finalist took care of Lukas Rosol 6-4, 7-5 and will duke it out with Gilles Simon for a berth in the quarterfinals. Milos Raonic outlasted Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 5-7, 7-6. Raonic will find John Isner across the net. The American ousted Grigor Dimitrov the ninth seed with a 7-6, 6-2 triumph.

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Venus Williams Proceeds to the Quarterfinals at the Miami Open

Venus Williams Proceeds to the Quarterfinals at the Miami Open

IMG_6949_VenusSeven time major winner Venus Williams ushered out world number four Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6 in the round of 16 at the Miami Open to punch her ticket into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.

The players could not maintain serve until the sixth game when Williams held for 4-3. Subsequent to a couple of long games, Wozniacki once again faltered. Venus broke to wrap up the opening set.

In the second set, Wozniacki threw the gauntlet with a break for 3-2. Although Williams found the equalizer promptly, as the serve deserted her, she was broken once more. In spite of difficulties, Wozniacki consolidated for 5-4. With the Dane serving for the set, Williams crushed a forehand up the line for triple break point. Soon, score was knotted at 5 a piece.

But, ahead 40-0, Williams had three consecutive double faults and eventually gifted another opportunity to her rival to push the match to a third set. Quickly, the American bounced back with triple break point and capitalized to bring up a tiebreaker.

With a nearly pristine performance, Williams claimed the tiebreaker 7-1. The American preserves her spotless record against Wozniacki and is now 7-0.

At age 34, no hint that she is contemplating retirement. Williams still has a passion for her profession “tennis has always been a blast…I never get bored. Tennis is not pushing paper. When you get out there you have no idea what’s going to happen. You can try to plan it the best you can, but it’s up in the air. You have to improvise every single time. You have to be very focused and disciplined. It’s all worth it when you get to the tournament, that excitement level comes up and I love it.”

Williams seized her 46th career title earlier in the year by also defeating Wozniacki in Auckland. Moreover, she advanced to the quarterfinals at a major for the first time since 2010. It’s been a long journey after her diagnosis of Sjogren syndrome “definitely a road not traveled. There is no handbook that says how to handle yourself. I’m persistent. I don’t give up and I believe in myself no matter what the odds are. I have always seen it as something to overcome and not something that could stop me.”

Williams made her debut at the Miami Open in 1997 and went on to land the title the following year, the biggest of her burgeoning career up to that point “Miami was my first big win besides the Australian Open mixed that year. So 1998 was definitely a great year. I learned a lot. Today, I played similar to young V, either knocking a winner or an error. It feels good.”

Williams had 40 winners today. With time, her game has changed “1997 I was a girl without a plan. Go out and swing. There’s a certain freedom to that, but there is also costly mistakes. At this stage, it’s about finding that happy medium, playing the percentage, being smart, using your experience, but at the same time continuing to be aggressive.”

With her appearance this season, Serena ended her boycott of Indian Wells. Is Venus far behind? “what Serena did was just awesome for me to see as a big sister. In this instance she took the role of big sister. We continue to protect each other no matter what. Next year is an Olympic year, it would be awesome to return, but I don’t know my schedule.”

Williams will clash with Carla Suarez Navarro in the subsequent match. The Spaniard stunned 2012 champion and world number eight Agnieszka Radwanska 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 to book her first quarterfinal appearance in Miami. Unlike today’s opponent, Suarez Navarro has 2-2 record against the American. Williams knows the match will be a battle “she plays a good mix of defense and offense. I just have to go out there and try to make my shot and use my power. Go for it.”

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Verdasco Scuttles Nadal at the Miami Open

Verdasco Scuttles Nadal at the Miami Open

IMG_0939_NadalRafael Nadal’s bid for a Miami Open trophy was halted by compatriot Fernando Verdasco today. The former world number seven stunned the second seed 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to claim a slot in the fourth round.

Ironically, Verdasco’s ultimate victory over a top three opponents was over Nadal at the Madrid Masters in 2012. In fact, it represented his first win over his countryman in fourteen attempts. A two time quarterfinalist in Miami, currently ranked 34th, Verdasco entered this event with a 8-6 record.

After letting his chance evaporate at 5-3 to seal the initial set, Verdasco broke Nadal for the second straight game to get the job done.

In the second set, Nadal broke and consolidated for a 4-2 edge. With a second break to carry the set, momentum seemed to have shifted to Nadal’s corner.

Considering the past, it would have been expected normal for doubts to creep into Verdasco’s psyche. Instead, the 2009 Australian Open semifinalist stayed hopeful in the deciding set. After dismissing a couple of break points, with a spectacular inside out crosscourt forehand winner, Verdasco converted on his break point opportunity then pushed his lead to 4-1.

After he failed on his maiden match point in the eighth game, it appears that Verdasco could crumble. Instead, it was the mental stalwart Nadal who misfired on a return at match point number to push his compatriot into the next round.

Nadal summed up what went wrong “I played some good games at the beginning; some good games on the second; not bad at the beginning of the third. But he played well the third, so he deserved to win more than me.”

According to Nadal, his issues go beyond just this match “It’s not the question of tennis. [it’s a] question of being relaxed enough to play well on court. My game in general improved from a month and a half. But at the same time, [I’m] still playing with too much nerves in important moments. Something that didn’t happen a lot during my career. I have been able to control my emotions during, 90%, 95% of my matches of my career, something that today is tougher. But I gonna fix it. I don’t know if in one week, in six months, or in one year, but I gonna do it.”

The world number three is adamant that his “nerve” difficulty is not the result of last year’s medical challenges “the physical problems are past. [I’m] feeling much more comfortable in my tennis, practicing well. But still playing on competition feeling more tired than usual, feeling that I don’t have self-confidence that when I hit the ball, I’m gonna hit the ball where I want to hit the ball. All these are small things that are difficult to explain.”

Hard to picture Nadal as a player struggling with nerves and self-control. Yet, he emphasizes although he has experienced it before but “very small for one point, two points. I’m able to say. Okay, I am here. But now, 3 all break point, more or less easy forehand. That was a very important point for me, but shouldn’t be. I lost that point and then affects the next game. I had the break back, 30-love, I miss a forehand, that created doubts again. I have been able to change a lot of negative situations in my career, I am confident that I can do it. I don’t know if I gonna do it, but I hope I can.”

Nadal is not a believer in couch therapy “tennis is not a big deal. Outside of the tennis world when you have some problems in your life, it is good help that you visit a professional who can improve your quality of life. [Tennis] is sport, is game. It is something I need to fix for myself and with my team. Hopefully, the clay helps.”

For his part, Verdasco never doubted even when forced to a decisive set “I was trying to think about how I played the first set and tried to get back that feeling. I tried to keep calm and be aggressive. At same time, cannot be very aggressive, very windy and many times you need to adjust.”

Undisputedly, a colossal win “beating a player like Rafa is the same like you beat [Andy] Murray or [Roger] Federer. It’s always a nice to feel a huge victory in a packed stadium in a very important tournament. Today was a good day. Now I need to try to rest and be ready for the next one.”

With reference to sensing a ‘less confident’, Verdasco replied “we played each other many times and everything happened. Since last time I beat him in Madrid, it was 13 times in a row for him. Some very easy some of them for me having match points. Every match is different. Today I adapted better than him. Normally, he is one of the best with this kind of wind. I’m not inside of him, so he is the one who needs to say about his feelings, not me. What I saw is that he was missing more than normal.”

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Serena Schools Bellis to Get to the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

Serena Schools Bellis to Get to the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

IMG_8162_Serena_BWAfter her second round win, Catherine Bellis was asked how she would approach an encounter with Serena Williams “it’s going to be really fun. I’m just going to play my game and see what happens. . .it’s just another opponent”. The 15 year old got the memo today that Williams is not ‘just another opponent’. The world number one required only 41 minutes to crush the youngster 6-1, 6-1 and stay on track for her eighth Miami Open title.

The 19 time major winner said in reference to her teenage counterpart “If you break down her age, her ability, how well she handled the moment and how well she played, I think it was good.. It wasn’t like, Oh, I’m so happy to win this match. . .it was tough. . .she’s young and her being an American, you want to see people like her do well. So when you’re up against them you have to kind of put that aside. Even though I’m always cheering for her.”

Williams was sympathetic toward her competitor “I never played that well at 15 to play the professionals, I was at school. I wasn’t good enough. . I turned pro at 15 and lost 1-1 to Anne Miller . . .I didn’t play for another two years. So, yeah, I think she’s doing really well.”

Bubbly and smiling after the match, Bellis reflected “I was pretty nervous, she’s number one in the world and the best of all time for a reason. It was just a really good experience for the future. . . I have never played her before, never seen her in person, just on TV, she’s my idol. . .the stadium is huge. I like that kind of stuff, it was fun. . .She definitely hits really hard. . .[this match] was an eye opener for sure>”

In the fourth round, Williams collides with Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian hung on against Angelique Kerber to win in three sets.

World number three and 2014 French Open finalist Simona Halep kept her dream of a back to back premier event trophy alive with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi.

This grandstand match was a roller coaster ride. At two all in the initial set, the Italian committed three double faults on three of four points in the fifth game to gift Halep the break. Although Giorgi quickly reestablished parity, a sleuth of miscues in the ninth game resulted in another break which was the difference in that set.

In the second set, Halep and Giorgi traded multiple breaks. At 5-4, Halep served for the match and could not shut the door. Subsequent, to benefiting from a seventh break courtesy of various mistakes by Giorgi including an 11th double fault, on her second try, Halep got the win.

Following her first meeting with Giorgi who shocked Maria Sharapova last year at Indian Wells, Halep commented “it was a strange match because she hits very strong and very fast. . .I didn’t have time sometimes to adapt. . .But I just tried to move my legs more and just to be aggressive. . .I’m happy that I could win. She’s a tough opponent.”

Halep hoisted the most prestigious trophy of her career last week at Indian Wells. Today, the Romanian got her maiden fourth round berth at the Miami Open “I like to play here. . .I come from Indian Wells . . .and I have more confidence. I’m just trying to keep my mind very focused and to recover my body every day. . .I feel a little bit tired, but it’s normal. . .I’m just looking forward to improve more in my shots, and I just want to hit the serve better and better day by day.”

Halep’s fan club is growing daily. Despite Giorgi’s Argentinian connection, her parents are from there, the Romanian loyalists were the most vocal “everywhere I go I have many Romanians supporting me. I can say it’s amazing . . .I can hear my name on court. So it’s really nice. . .gives me more power to fight.”

On stadium court, Victoria Azarenka faced 2014 Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta. In the seventh game, with some bold play, Pennetta salvaged two break points to push ahead 4-3. Later, by smoking a forehand crosscourt pass by the Belarusian on triple break point, Pennetta was at 5-3. However, serving for the set, Pennetta faltered. The set’s owner was decided by a tiebreaker. The Italian capitalized on her third mini-break to pocket the set.

The second set was almost a mirror image to the prior. Pennetta banked on triple break point in the seventh game for 4-3. Still, Azarenka managed to recover and get to a tiebreaker. But, it would not be the two time champion’s day as a composed Pennetta went on to prevail.

In the next round, Halep collides with Pennetta. Eighteen year old Belinda Bencic joins the fourth round for the first time at the Miami Open. She takes on Sloane Stephens who was victorious in straight sets. Garbine Muguruza fell short against 2013 French Open finalist Sara Errani. Errani will play either Sabine Lisicki or Ana Ivanovic.

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Dimitrov Destroys Pospisil to Advance at the Miami Open, Tsonga and Isner Advance

Dimitrov Destroys Pospisil to Advance at the Miami Open, Tsonga and Isner Advance

Tennis - 2015 ATP World Tour 1000 - Miami Open - Key Biscayne, USA - Day 6 - Saturday 28 March 2015One of the star matches on Stadium Court at the Miami Open featured 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov against promising prospect, Vasek Pospisil. For the Canadian who ousted Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round, it was a miserable day at the office. Dimitrov required only 59 minutes to dismantle his opponent 6-2, 6-2.

The ninth seed came out of the block blazing converting on double break point in the opening game. Dimitrov went on to cash in on another break point in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead. The Bulgarian closed out the first set with ease with a love hold.

Unfortunately for Popisil, the second set offered more of the same. Leveled at 2 all, the Canadian surrendered his serve by double faulting. After Dimitrov consolidated, Pospisil dropped serve his next game. Without fanfare, Dimitrov sealed the match on his first match point.

In the third round, Dimitrov will battle John Isner. The American had a comfortable 6-3,6-4 victory against reigning junior world number one, 17 year old Andrey Rublev.

Earlier in the afternoon, in a hold over from last evening rained out session, the affable Frenchman Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga tussled with American Tim Smyczek for a spot in the third round. The 2008 Australian Open finalist who was on forced sabbatical due to an arm injury held off Smyczek 6-4,3-6,6-3.

Tsonga was satisfied with his performance considering this was his first match in few months “I didn’t expect to play my best tennis today ever. I’m happy the way I managed. . .I played pretty solid. I just had a little hole in the second set, it’s normal when you haven’t played since couple of months”.

Regarding the injury itself, Tsonga reflected “my arm is feeling better today. I hope it’s going to be better and better, but for first match was already something good for me.”

Next for the world number eleven is compatriot Gael Monfils who skipped Indian Wells this year due to a knee issue. Monfils dug deep against Filip Krajinovic in the tiebreaker after wasting a few match points to win 3-6,6-2,7-6.

On Grandstand court, 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori routed Mikail Youzhny 6-2, 6-1. Fifth seed Milos Raonic and 2013 Miami finalist David Ferrer also crushed their opponents to book their safe passage into the third round. Other winners today include young American Jack Sock, Juan Monaco, Belge David Goffin who schooled 18 year old talent Borna Coric and Fernando Verdasco.

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Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on

Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on

IMG_3458_NadalThe twelfth contest between fellow Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro went the way many of the others have gone. Nadal posted a 6-4, 6-2 victory to advance to the third round at the Miami Open.

Almagro came in with a ray of hope after banking his maiden victory over the world number 3 last year in Barcelona. Today was the competitors’ third meeting on hardcourt and Almagro’s triumph materialized on clay a surface he excels at. Moreover, the latter’s 2014 season was marred by a foot injury requiring surgery. Almagro began 2015 on the right foot with a successful South American swing which culminated with a semifinal appearance in Buenos Aires.

Nadal hasn’t been sizzling on any surface of late. His 46th clay court prize in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago was his first since the 2014 French Open. The world number three’s best on hardcourt in 2015 has been quarterfinals at Indian Wells and Australian Open. Consequently, Almagro came in with a ray of hope.

With a flubbed forehand volley by Almagro, Nadal converted on break point in the initial set for 2-1. The 14 time major winner stared down three break points on his serve before securing the set.

In the second set, Almagro dumped a forehand into the net on double break point to place his opponent in the lead at 2-1. Shortly thereafter, Nadal bolstered his edge with a love hold. Later on, with a forehand winner, Nadal cushioned his position with an additional break for 4-1. At that stage, it was clear that Almagro would have to wait another day for the hope of a second victory over his compatriot.

In analyzing his performance, Nadal believes “I played a solid match. . .I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes today with very tough conditions. . .my forehand worked well. . .I’m happy, Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round”.

Nadal was disappointed with some aspects of his game with his loss at Indian Wells. Today, he was determined to “play with no mistakes on the important points. . .last week, I had a lot of opportunities in the quarterfinals. . . I didn’t have a lot of mistakes, he played well. But I lost the opportunities to convert. It’s important to change the dynamic of these things quick. Doing it in this match is important for me”

Commenting on the deluge which followed a few minutes after he was done, “sure important to finish the match before the storm arrived. . .But that can happen here in Miami. It’s nothing new”.

Four times the groomsman, never the groom, the Miami Open has been less kind to Nadal than Indian Wells, he possesses three of those trophies “it is true that Indian Wells has been a tournament that has worked better historically for my game. . .the bounces are higher. . .I like playing in [Miami]. . .some days can be very humid and hard for the body. But in general, they are the conditions I like to play tennis. . .Sea level, hot, no problem, I like to play tennis”.

With the weather delay, Nadal’s third round counterpart has yet to be established. It will be either countryman Fernando Verdasco against whom he has 13-1 mark or 23 year old Australian James Duckworth ranked 97th in a first meeting

Earlier in the day, two time Miami Open champion Andy Murray disposed of Donald Young in two sets 6-4, 6-2. Murray improves his record against the American to 5-1. After surrendering the opening set in a tiebreaker, world number eight, Stanislas Wawrinka knocked out Carlos Berlocq.

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Novak Djokovic Holds Press Conference at Miami Open

Novak Djokovic Holds Press Conference at Miami Open

Four time Miami Open champion Novak Djokovic met with the press in Miami after his doubles match with fellow Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.

Djokovic responded to questions regarding his past wins on the ATP tour, social media, and his support for Tipsarevic while he has recovered from injuries.

Here is the complete interview :

Q. You have won Miami back to back twice already. What’s the key for this quick turnaround?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I started the season very well with winning Grand Slam, and that definitely helps my confidence level. I finished the 2014 season in a great form winning Paris and London back to back and then winning Australia and playing finals Dubai, Davis Cup, and then Indian Wells. Of course I’m at a great place now. I try to enjoy and take the best out of the feeling that I have on the court right now. Hopefully I can have another great week in Miami. The record that I had in last, you know, eight, nine years I have been coming back to Miami and playing the tournament is really good. Some of my best tennis I have played here in these courts. That can hopefully help me to get far in the tournament. We are here in United States for, you know, some of the biggest events we have in sport, Indian Wells and Miami for four weeks, playing best of three, and it’s well spread. It does help you to recover and get ready for the next matches. You don’t get too exhausted physically because the schedule is such that it allows you to have fun to recover and have time for the next one.

Q. You know, Wimbledon has famous Kipling line of if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters the same. Do you follow something the same? Is that how you keep your mindset, coming off a big win, as well?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, you mentioned one very wise saying that you see just before you walk out on Centre Court. There is a lot of wisdom in that. Of course that’s easier said than done sometimes, but I guess you become wiser as you grow and as you become older, as well.
Playing more matches and spending more time in the highest level in tennis allows you to understand, you know, how you need to approach and have the healthy approach to every tournament. Back in 2011 when I had the best season so far in my career and became No. 1 of the world, I was so much blown away and so happy by those terrific achievements that, you know, it was difficult for me the year after to kind of face all those challenges, to defend points, and was a little bit carried away by a lot of distractions, I would say, you know, off the court. But it allowed me  those kind of experiences allowed me to grow and to become stronger mentally, you know, as a tennis player and as a person, and to find the right balance between the private and professional life, to enjoy the life that I have, to really embrace everything that life is presenting to me. But yet again, stay professional discipline, committed to the sport that I love. So I think right now I found the right balance, and I’m at the peak of my career and my abilities. Hopefully I can maintain that for the time to come.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, let’s say I prefer the medium speed of the court. I think that it all depends if you’re playing during the day or the night. The conditions change. Of course the night, during the night, the ball travels through the air a bit slower and the balls get a bit bigger. Also, as you mentioned, because of the humidity it’s tough to physically stay out there and, you know, fight for every point.
So you kind of have to be prepared that you have to face a certain kind of challenges. Swirly conditions today; wind, for example, that changes directions all the time. But it’s the same for you and your opponent. It’s just that, you know, you need to be tough and approach it in a right way. The experience of playing this tournament so many times helps me to approach it in that way and not get distracted by these conditions. Of course it is frustrating when you’re on the court, but more importantly is to stay concentrated.

Q. (Question regarding social media.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think the best thing about the social media and social platforms is the fact that you can interact with the people that follow and you support you. You know, there are many people around the world that actually, you know, watch tennis. It’s a very global sport. They support you and really express their love and appreciation for what you do. So this is one of the ways to give them back, not just on the court by playing good tennis, but also you interact with them and feed them with some video or picture content that would give them a different look at your personality. Not just what they see on the TV when you’re playing tennis, but something else, to present yourself as a person.
Everything has its borders, obviously, but I try to, you know, kind of post  most of the content I post is something that is fun, something that is different. You know, sometimes I have to show them that I’m working in the gym or on the tennis court, that I am preparing myself.
But mostly some other fun stuff for people that I get to meet along the way.

Q. And the bad side? Do you get mean messages?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I do. Of course, in the ideal world everybody with love you, but it’s not like that. I respect everybody’s opinion and freedom to say whatever they think. Actually, it’s good to read criticism in some ways, because you can have a different angle of observing yourself, as well, different perspectives. That’s how I see it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s difficult to compare any of those seasons with this season, as well. Every season brings something new, new challenges. Right now I’m a complete person and really fulfilled in every aspect of my life. Became a husband and a father in last 10 months, and that’s a very important milestone for me that has definitely contributed in a positive way to my tennis, as well. I’m not taking things for granted. I am very grateful for the opportunity to play the sport that I love, and still kind of fulfill my parental duties and, you know, be, I would say, accomplished as a husband and a father. I cannot complain. It’s a great place in my life where I am at the moment, and trying to take the best out of it.

Q. After so many years you stay on the top of tennis, how can you handle the fame, but on the same time, to be a humble person that you are? Can you send some words for the people who follow your career? And in Miami, people love you.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you. I love them, too. I do feel that it’s multicultural, very international city, Miami. There is a lot of Latin people. I feel over the years I have had a very nice relationship with the people from Latin America. Hopefully they will keep on supporting me. It’s very much necessary here. And referring to your first part of the question, as I said before, I really appreciate the fact that I’m playing tennis. Probably the childhood that I had, the circumstances in life that I had to face and overcome to be where I am at this moment allowed me to observe things in life in a different way, in a more humble way, I would say. The fact that I come from a very small country, the fact that I overcame some challenges that seemed impossible at the time with the war and sanctions and all these things and arrived to where I am, that has shaped me as a person and my character, and helps me now to have this kind of approach that I believe is the right one.

Q. Can you just talk about the emotions you’re going through in supporting Janko over these years.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. It’s incredibly sad story with him in last 17 months. I know him for such a long time. We are great friends. His last official match that he played was in October 2013, and ever since then he was suffering from injuries. Mostly from the heel that he had to operate I think two or three times. Along the way he also hurt some other muscles and joints. Just a very dreadful time for him. I tried to, as a friend and as a colleague, be close to him, to give him support, to let him know that I’m there and I wish him to have a speedy recovery and to come back as quick as possible. So the opportunity to play today with him was very special for me, really, as a friend, and I cared very much to win this match today. I got very tight in the supertiebreaker, I have to say, because it was a very tough match. We lost to two of the great, very good doubles players. But we talked after the match, and he appreciated the fact that he can actually play. Just feel that match play, you know, have that sensation of how it feels and what takes to be on the court. 17 months is a long time for injuries, and he’s also not young. You know, he’s now 31 this year. But he’s eager to play. He’s motivated. He right now has been practicing for a couple of weeks 100%, and he decided actually it’s better to skip this tournament in singles because he needed a little bit more time to get into it. Hopefully this doubles match today can help him. When he plays now in Houston after Miami he can perform his best. He can relax. He has the quality to go back to where he was. You know, that’s top 10. I really wish him that.

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