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Murray, Federer in cruise control at Sony Open

Murray, Federer in cruise control at Sony Open

IMG_6856_Murray

Miami Ricky Dimon
With former coach Ivan Lendl sitting in his player box, Andy Murray showed signs of the Murray who won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon under Lendl. Murray crushed Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-1 in the third round of the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Sunday afternoon.

The defending champion, who is coming off back surgery and recently lost in the Indian Wells fourth round, has been dominant since dropping his first set of this Miami event to Matthew Ebden. Murray has now yielded a mere six games in his last four sets. He converted five of six break-point opportunities against Lopez, who served at a horrendous 43 percent.

“I moved well [and] returned well,” said Murray. “It’s not always that easy to feel comfortable against him because there is not [a lot] of rhythm with the way he plays.”

The No. 6 seed is joined in the last 16 by Roger Federer, who stormed past Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-3 in just one hour and three minutes. Federer surrendered only seven service points in the entire match. He lost just three points on serve against Ivo Karlovic in the second round.

Sunday’s opening match on the Grandstand featured a far more competitive affair. Neither man was at his best, but the result was an entertaining, back-and-forth battle between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis. Tsonga prevailed 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 in two hours and 30 minutes.

To say the Frenchman took a circuitous route to victory would be an understatement. He trailed by a set and by 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker. Baghdatis was two points from the match on six different occasions but could not cross the finish line. Tsonga won five straight points for 6-5, double-faulted on set point, but then won it on a Baghdatis double-fault at 6-7.

Tsonga saved all five of the break points he faced in set three before breaking serve for the very first time in Baghdats’ final service game at 5-5. It finally ended in the 12th game of the decider on Tsonga’s 16th ace.

Murray and Tsonga will face each other in the fourth round, while Federer is going up against Richard Gasquet.

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WTA Veterans Advance to fourth round at the Sony Open

WTA Veterans Advance to fourth round at the Sony Open

IMG_7049_Cibulkova(March 23, 2014) Li Na held off Madison Keys 7-6(3), 6-3 in a slugfest on Sunday morning at the Sony Open to reach the fourth round.

The world No. 2 and young American who are both represented by agent Max Eisenbud, each broke serve three time in the opening set. Along with hitting deep groundstrokes, both women committed tons of unforced errors.

Li saved set points, down 3-5 in first set and was forced to rebound from being a break down at 0-2 early in the second set. Keys was within a point of going up 3-0 in the second set.

“I think it was pretty tough match,” Li said. “I think she play well, big serve, big forehand, especially when she was like 3‑1 down and then come back 5‑3‑up and serve for the first set.

“She’s No. 2 in the world for a reason,” Keys said. “She just won Australian Open for a reason. She’s a great player.”

Carla Suárez Navarro, who cruised past No.24 seed Kaia Kanepi, 6-2, 6-1 will face the world No. 2 in fourth round.

No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska had to fight breaks in both sets to stop Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-3.

Three-time Sony Open champion Venus Williams edged out wildcard Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

The match which lasted two-and-a-half hours saw Williams commit 44 unforced errors but she hit 11 aces in the win.

“She’s playing so well and mixing her shots up so I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but definitely looking forward to the next round,” Venus Williams said.

“I do try and compete. I mean, being out here, even if it’s not your best day, no matter what the circumstances are, for me, I just try to walk off the court knowing at least even if I didn’t play my best I gave 100,000%.”

Williams will face No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova, who beat No. 22 Alice Cornet 7-6 (6), 6-1.

Elina Svitolina, came back from a set and a break down to beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The night match saw No. 18 Caroline Wozniacki destroy No. 16 Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-0 on Stadium court in less than an hour.

“I’m pleased about the way I played,” Wozniacki said. Definitely very happy about the performance out there.

“Just got my butt kicked, and that’s about it really,” Stephens said.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. 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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Nadal rolls at Sony Open, Isner lone advancing American

Nadal rolls at Sony Open, Isner lone advancing American

IMG_6785_NadalMiami Ricky Dimon
Almost nothing has come easy for Rafael Nadal in 2014. But that is exactly how he made it look on Saturday night at the Sony Open Tennis tournament.

Nadal began his week in convincing fashion as he rolled over Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and nine minutes. The world No. 1 converted four of five break points and faced none on his own serve during the second-round blowout.

Hewitt, the Brisbane champion from earlier this season, lost the first four games of the match before finally holding serve. The 33-year-old Australian eventually had a game point at 3-4 in the second only to lose three straight points and get broken. Nadal dropped only eight points in eight service games and he wrapped up the proceedings with one last routine hold at 5-3.

The Australian Open runner-up, who lost to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the Indian Wells third round, will go up against Denis Istomin on Monday. Istomin reeled off nine games in a row from the start of the second set to 3-0 in the third during a 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-0 win over Dmitry Tursunov. Istomin crushed 19 aces and benefited from 14 double-faults by his opponent, against whom the Uzbek is already 3-1 this year.

In what is becoming old habit for John Isner, the 6’10” American is his country’s last hope on the men’s side. Isner is the only player flying the USA flag in the third round after he battled past compatriot Donald Young 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 55 minutes.

A back-and-forth match saw the world No. 10 lose the opening tiebreaker before seizing a break early in the second. Isner gave it back at 4-2, but Young dropped serve again at 3-4 to let Isner close it out one game later. A quick break in the third ultimately decided the outcome in Isner’s favor.

“I thought I played pretty well,” said the 10th seed, who fired 16 aces. “A lot of times it comes down to a one-set situation for the match and having my serve on my side, it helps. I had a lot of adrenaline going through me, especially when I was up a break. It was one of those things where I go out there and serve my hardest, serve my biggest and win the match.”

Next up for Isner is Nicolas Almagro, who eliminated another American in Sam Querrey via a 6-4, 6-4 scoreline.

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

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Serena and Sharapova tested at the Sony Open

Serena and Sharapova tested at the Sony Open

IMG_6261_SharapovaSerena Williams survived up-and-comer Caroline Garcia of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the Sony Open on Saturday.

Six-time Sony Open winner Williams is seeking to defend her crown and win a record–setting seven title.

The 20-year-old Garcia made Williams work – moving the 17-time major champ around the court and blasting serves which were clocked as fast as at 117 mph in the two-hour and 30 minute match.

“She plays well,” Williams said of Garcia. “I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there.”

“I think, granted she played great, but I made so many errors. I hit so short. It really isn’t the same player. I just have to do better.”

The world No. 1 committed 41 unforced errors during the match.

“It was a good match to play and it was good test for me because she’s good player and she’s always fighting a lot,” Garcia said.

Williams advances to the fourth round.

Maria Sharapova was pushed by Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-2 in an almost three hour contest. The No. 4 seed won the match on her ninth match point over a feisty opponent 56 minutes after her first match point which came in the second set tiebreaker.

Safarova saved 6 match points against Sharapova in the final game of the match with a series of winners.

At the end of the match, instead of a traditional handshake, the women hugged each other.

“She kept hitting unbelievable shots,” Sharapova said after the match. “One more. One more. I said, `How many chances are you going to get?’”

“I’m happy to be sitting here winning the match,” the Russian said in press. “Obviously it was tough to lose that second set after having a couple of match points, but I was really happy with the way I came out.”

The day was not without upsets as No. 9 seed Sara Errani fell to Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Kirsten Flipkens moved into the next round when No. 14 seed Sabine Lisicki withdrew from the tournament due to the flu.

Other seeds advancing on the day were No. 5 Angelique Kerber who beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-2, No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic who topped Indian Wells winner No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3, No. 8 Petra Kvitova who beat teenqualifier Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. 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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Federer, Djokovic, Murray off to winning start at Sony Open

Federer, Djokovic, Murray off to winning start at Sony Open


IMG_6389_FedererMiami, FL Ricky Dimon
After skipping last year’s Sony Open Tennis tournament, Roger Federer kicked off his 2014 campaign on Friday afternoon with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Ivo Karlovic. Federer lost a mere three points on serve in the entire match and he fired six aces to Karlovic’s 13 to advance in one hour and 14 minutes.

The 32-year-old Swiss dropped just one service point in the first set and one in the second prior to a tiebreaker. An error off the net cord, however, gave back a mini-break to Karlovic in surprising fashion. One more mini-break was all Federer would need, as he took care of his final two service points at 5-4 and 6-4.

“I think I was able to play a very clean match on my service games throughout,” the world No. 5 explained. “I was playing with margin, was able to move Ivo around, and I was able to maintain that throughout the match, which was key.”

Next up for Federer is qualifier Thiemo De Bakker, who upset Fernando Verdasco 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-2.

Novak Djokovic joined Federer in the third round following a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Jeremy Chardy. The Frenchman’s hopes were doomed by 51 percent serving and a failure to save any of the three break points he faced. Chardy also suffered a sprained ankle in the final game of the match when Djokovic served out his win at 5-3 in the second set.

“It’s obviously different conditions that I’m playing here in Miami from Indian Wells,” said the No. 2 seed, who is coming off a title at the BNP Paribas Open. “It’s more humid and it takes a little bit of time to get used to. So that’s why the first matches are always tricky. And especially when you have an opponent who goes for his shots as Jeremy did today.”

Andy Murray capped off the night on Stadium court by waking up from a slow start to storm past Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. Murray, who recently made a news-worthy split from coach Ivan Lendl, won all six of his return games spanning the second and third sets. The sixth-ranked Scot dropped serve to trail 1-0 in the third before reeling of a second streak of six consecutive games in his favor.

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

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Li Na, Radwanska, Venus roll into next round at Sony Open

Li Na, Radwanska, Venus roll into next round at Sony Open

IMG_2397_RadwanskaSony Open No. 2 seed Li Namade it to the third round without striking a ball on Friday when her opponent Alisa Kleybanova pulled out of the tournament due to a viral illness. Kleybanova, is making a comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Kleybanova wasn’t the only withdrawal on the day for the women. No. 6 Simona Halep pulled out before her match due to a right toe injury.

2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Romina Oprandi 6-0, 6-4.

“First of all, I started very well,” the No. 3 seed said. “She started to play much better in the second set and we had a lot of breaks and long games – it was tricky, and I was getting a bit nervous.

“But I was happy I could finish this match in two sets today.”

Other seeded winners on the day included (10) Dominika Cibulkova over Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-2, (11) Caroline Wozniacki had to fight her opponent and the crowd when she topped Monica Puig 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, (15) Carla Suarez Navarro beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-1 and (17) Sloane Stephens (17) won over Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

American Varvara Lepchenko pulled off the upset of the day on the ladies side of the draw by ousting No. 7 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2). Other surprises included Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who topped 13 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, Elina Svitolina stunned 21st seed Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, Ajla Tomljanovic defeated (30) Garbine Muguruza and young American Madison Keys stopped (31) Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m really happy about it,” Keys said. “I mean, I think I served well. I think that really helped me today.

The next challenge for Keys will be No. 2 seed Li Na.

“I mean, she’s a great player. She’s obviously done a lot in her career, so really happy to get through that one.”

“It’s such a good experience,” Keys commenting on the match-up in the third round.

“She’s a great player. She just won the Australian Open so she’s obviously doing well.

“Yeah, just a good experience and excited to go play.”

Former No. 1 and 29th seed Venus Williams moved on by beating Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3 in the night session.

For the 33-year-old who is playing her 15th Sony Open it’s her first match since winning the Dubai title last month.

“I have been working hard since then, and I feel really confident, you know, in every situation I’m in on the court.

“So I think that, you know, it was a big help for me in Dubai.”

“She’s competitive, a new player,” Williams said about playing Schmiedlova. “You never know what their game is really going to be like. I’d never even seen her play.

“But it’s obviously great to be in the next round.” She’ll play in the third round against Casey Dellacqua.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. 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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Serena Williams, Sharapova Advance at Sony Open

Serena Williams, Sharapova Advance at Sony Open

IMG_6153_Serena(March 20, 2014) World No. 1 Serena Williams had to dust off a little rust in the first set to beat Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6 (7), 6-2 in her opening match at the Sony Open.

The defending champion and six-time Key Biscayne title holder jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening set, only to see her opponent take the next four games. Williams broke Shvedova while she was serving for the set at 5-4. The set ended with a tiebreak, in which Williams fell behind 3-6. Williams rallied to save three set points and eventually win it 9-7 ending the set with a pair of aces and a backhand winner.

“It was an incredibly tough first set,” Williams said of the 69-minute set. “I just needed to relax and yet keep up the intensity.”

“Well, she was doing a little bit of everything, Williams said to media. She was hitting hard; she was hitting soft; she was doing a little bit of everything.

Things were back to normal for the 16-time major champion in the second set, winning the last 5 games of the set to give her the match.

The next opponent for Williams will be France’s Caroline Garcia.

Fourth seed Maria Sharapova joined Williams in the third round by beating Kurumi Nara 6-3, 6-4 to begin the Thursday night session in Key Biscayne.

“She made me work extremely hard today,” Sharapova said. “She’s a really quick opponent, got a lot of balls back, as you saw, made me hit a lot, and made me feel like ‑‑ tried to do too much in certain situations.”

Always a bridesmaid but never a bride at the Sony Open for Sharapova who has lost five finals.

“I have been close, and I have had my fair share of chances of winning the tournament,” said the Russian. “Obviously I’m still looking for that.

Among the other WTA winners on Thursday were fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber who squeaked past Peng Shuai 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (5), No. 12 Ana Ivanovic who topped young American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1, and No. 28 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 champion, was upset by teen qualifier Donna Vekic 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. 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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Hewitt wins 600th ATP match at Sony Open, young American trio advances

Hewitt wins 600th ATP match at Sony Open, young American trio advances

IMG_6122_HewittMiami, FL Ricky Dimon
Lleyton Hewitt earned his 600th ATP match victory when he came back from a set and a break down to defeat Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 during first-round action at the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Thursday afternoon.

Hewitt trailed 3-1 in the second set before mounting his charge with a streak of five consecutive games in his favor. The 33-year-old Australian worked similar magic in the third, although in that frame he did not fall behind by a break. Starting at 2-3, Hewitt reeled off four straight games to clinch victory. Haase double-faulted three times in the final game of the match, essentially sealing his own fate.

A former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion, Hewitt improved his lifetime record to 600-241 after one hour and 57 minutes. His reward is a Friday night date with current world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

“Today was just like another match and an opportunity to go out there and play well,” Hewitt explained. “Afterwards…a great milestone. Not many people get to achieve [600 wins]. Means I have been around for an awfully long time, as well. I’m getting old.”

As for players who are not getting old anytime soon, Americans Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, and Donald Young joined Hewitt in the second round. Harrison preceded Hewitt on Stadium court got the best of Federico Delbonis 6-2, 6-4, Young rolled over Carlos Berlocq 6-2, 6-2, and Sock made similarly routine work of Guido Pella in a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Interestingly, Young’s only previous encounter with Berlocq had come at this same event in 2006, when the Argentine humiliated Young 6-0, 6-0. In the very next round, Berlocq lost 6-0, 6-0 himself–to James Blake. Young had no trouble turning the tide eight years later and he is safely through to an all-American showdown against John Isner.

In history-making news of the day, Bernard Tomic made a premature comeback from hip surgery that had sidelined him since the Australian Open. The result was the shortest match of all-time on the ATP Tour, with Tomic going down to Jarkko Nieminen 6-0, 6-1 in 28 minutes and 20 seconds. The 21-year-old Australian won one point in the first five games, three points in the first set, and 13 points in total.

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

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Novak Djokovic Address the Press at the Sony Open

Novak Djokovic Address the Press at the Sony Open

Three time Sony Open Tennis champion Novak Djokovic met with the press in Miami prior to his first round match on Friday.  Djokovic revealed that his coach Boris Becker will not be in Miami as he is undergoing surgery on both of his hips.

Djokovic responded to questions regarding the resurgence of Roger Federer, Andy Murray splitting with Ivan Lendl and the future of Juan Martin Del Potro.

Here is the complete interview :

Q.  Can you tell us a little bit about Boris.  We hear that he’s been unable to travel. 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, he’s unable to travel.  He has surgery of his both hips today and tomorrow, so that’s unfortunate.  He couldn’t come.

Q.  But was that expected? 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No, he was supposed to come here.  Basically in the finals of Indian Wells he called us and said that he had an emergency and he has to operate both hips.

Q.  How will this affect or will it affect you and Boris going forward?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No, no, he’s going to be in MonteCarlo, and the schedule for the tournaments that he committed before the start of the season, he will be there, you know, unless his health doesn’t allow him.

Of course, in these particular situations you can’t do much about it.  If he has to operate his hips, he cannot move, cannot walk, unfortunately.  It’s been something that it’s kind of an issue that has been  issue he’s been carrying for many years already.

If he is able, he’s going to be in MonteCarlo already.  Everything stays the same.

Q.  People will look at what you did in Indian Wells and say, Well, you didn’t miss Boris much, but I guess what he has done in the buildup contributed to that success. 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, absolutely.  Well, first of all, I mean, Boris is a head coach, and this was not only my own decision.  It was actually Marian’s proposal from the start, because as I was saying before, he has been on the tour as a player and coach 30 years.  It’s been a very long time for him.

He wanted to spend more time with his family, and it was time for me to kind of try to get somebody that is able to commit for more tournaments than Marian.

So when Marian was still around, as you see, it was planned for him to be in Indian Wells; now he’s in Miami because of this situation.  But they split tournaments.  I mean, Boris is supposed to travel to more tournaments.

They have a very good communication and relationship, and I’m happy with the way it all has started.  Obviously the start of the season I haven’t won Australian Open as it was the case in last, previous three years, but, you know, it’s a sport.

I feel that I’m playing good on the court.  It’s just a matter of time when things are going to click.  I’m glad that I already  they already have clicked in Indian Wells.  I have had a great two weeks, and the benefits and the effects of our incorporation, Boris and mine, hopefully we will see in the rest of the season.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Roger’s resurgence.  You just played him, and some people had already just not counted him out or were starting to write him off the Big 4 and all that.  Can you talk about him and just having played him.  What do you see in his game different, and that he’s sort of back?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  Well, I think he’s playing in a high level this year.  He’s back to his normal level, you know, the level that he had for seven, eight years while he was so dominant in men’s tennis.  Obviously last season he was not as good for his standards.

You know, but this year he started strong.  He won the title in Dubai and played semis of Australian Open.  I can feel that he’s striking the ball very cleanly.  He’s very confident on the court and he has improved his backhand I think.

Maybe it’s the racquet or something else, but he definitely has more depth on that shot.  He’s going more for his topspins rather than slicing it.  You know, of course, with his immense experience and success that he had in his career, he’s never to be ruled out.

Doesn’t matter how old he is.  It’s just a number.  As he was saying, he feels good on the court.  He’s fit.  He’s definitely one of the best players in the world now.

Q.  Were you as surprised as we were about Andy Murray’s split with Ivan Lendl?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, to be honest, I was not surprised.  But, again, I didn’t know what to expect.  They worked for two years, and obviously it brought both of them, especially Andy, a lot of success on the court.  He won Olympic Games, won a few Grand Slams.  I think it was a very good decision from inside to be working with Ivan.

Now they split.  I mean, they obviously had a good reason for that.  I’m not the one who should judge.

Q.  Do you think their success was one of the reasons why there are suddenly so many names… 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Maybe.  But I was saying that that was not the motivation behind me hiring Boris Becker.  As I said before, it was a kind of a course in our relationship between Marian and myself where, you know, we came to the point where we had to think of an alternative option.  We had to think about somebody stepping into our team.

That was the main reason why we hired Boris.

Q.  How important is playing with this environment in Miami?  Different for all of you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It is different tournament.  It’s actually one of the nicest ones we have on tour.  It’s a lot of fun, a lot of entertainment, very international crowd.

I have had much success in this city before I won my first big title back in 2007.  I remember here was my first Masters 1000 event.  So I have really good memories.

I always look forward coming back to Miami this time of the year.  It’s nice weather.  As I said, a lot of fun on and off the court.

Q.  Now that a couple of days has passed since Indian Wells, how much of a boost is that for you confidencewise and a bit of a relief?  I know winning titles is nothing new to you, but an estrangement at the start of this year.  How much of a confidence boost is that for you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it is, in some kind, a relief for me, because I haven’t had a title this year up to Indian Wells.  Indian Wells final was the first final of the year.  I haven’t played many tournaments; I haven’t played many matches.

So I knew I’m playing well.  I had incredible end of 2013, so I did have confidence.  But I started a little bit doubting myself on the court.  You know, I was struggling a little bit with my, I would say, consistency and the concentration.  Throughout the tournament also I had ups and downs, but I managed to win four out of six matches in three sets.

Mentally it’s a very encouraging win that gives me confidence and that also, you know, is very special in a way.  This time of the year I needed it very much, and hopefully I can carry that into this week.

Q.  Juan Martin Del Potro, have you talked to him, about his future?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I talked to him a little bit a few days ago.  He was uncertain if he’s going to play or not.  Now he’s not playing, so, yeah, it’s really unfortunate.

I think it’s the other wrist, because he had problems with one wrist and now it’s the other one.  He’s a very tall, tall guy, and for him playing many tournaments in a high level week in and week out is very difficult.

His body is suffering, and it’s unfortunate that somebody of his quality is not performing here.  Also Indian Wells.  Tennis definitely misses him.  He’s always one of the contenders to win big titles.  He’s very entertaining to watch.  He’s a nice guy.

I wish him all the best and quick recovery.

Q.  We’re doing a story on fashion in tennis, and we have seen it transcend, you know, Agassi with the denim shorts.  You had the Darth Vader look.  A, what is your inspiration when you go into designing your own clothes?  And, B, how important is it for all of you guys to differentiate you guys with your style?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, well, you mentioned Andre Agassi.  I mean, he definitely revolutionalized the fashion in tennis.  He was the first one to dress differently and to have some kind of statement on the court.

Well, I have been through a process in my career, as well.  I had different dragons and wings on my shirts (smiling).

But I’m at a different stage right now.  Of course I’m very much involved in giving  trying to give my input as much as I can to design my own clothes.  I’m fortunate to have a really good team of people and designers from Uniqlo Company who represents me the last two years.

There is various, I will say, inspirations behind the certain designs for different periods of the year depending on color of the surface, depending on the time of the year, depending where we go, color of Serbian flags, so forth and so forth.

So there are different sources of inspiration we are trying to put into the design and kind of create something that looks nice on the court.

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Chardy and Veterans Advance at the Sony Open

Chardy and Veterans Advance at the Sony Open

IMG_6027_ChardyMiami, FL Ricky Dimon
The first day of main-draw action in men’s singles at the 2014 Sony Open saw Jeremy Chardy outlast Juan Monaco in a thriller on Stadium court. Chardy prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5) after two hours and 38 minutes to set up a second-round date with second-seeded Novak Djokovic.

It almost ended prior to a final-set tiebreaker, when the 48th-ranked Frenchman forced Monaco into a 15-40 situation at 4-5. Monaco saved the first match point with a serve-forehand combination and Chardy netted a backhand on his second opportunity. Two holds later, a ‘breaker had to decide the outcome. The Argentine fought off one more match point at 4-6, but Chardy finally got the job done at 6-5 thanks to an overhead smash.

Miami’s Stadium crowd was treated to another tense three-setter during the night session. Amidst a lively atmosphere, Marcos Baghdatis recovered from a dismal opening set and from two breaks down in the third to overcome Santiago Giraldo 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 51 minutes. Giraldo served for the match at both 5-2 and 5-4, but the Colombian failed on both occasions and he ultimately lost six straight games to Baghdatis to seal his fate.

It was just Baghdatis’ fourth victory of the season. The struggling Cypriot will next go up against Philipp Kohlschreiber on Friday.

Giraldo was not the only Colombian action on Wednesday. Whereas not a single American man took the court (six are scheduled for Thursday on the other side of the draw), three Colombians contested their openers. Alejandro Falla lost to Marinko Matosevic 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) and Alejandro Gonzalez took care of Malek Jaziri 7-6(9), 6-1.

The Grandstand featured a pair of stellar individual performances. Red-hot and fast-rising Dominic Thiem powered past recent Irving Challenger champion Lukas Rosol 7-6(6), 6-4. The 20-year-old Austrian, who qualified for the main draw for his fifth successful tournament qualification already this season, won 86 percent of his first-serve points. At the other end of the career spectrum, 35-year-old Radek Stepanek donated fewer games than any other man in a 6-3, 6-0 rout of Daniel Brands. Stepanek required a mere 57 minutes to book a spot alongside Andreas Seppi in the round of 64.

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

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