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Federer Overpowers Del Potro as he Moves on to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open

Federer Overpowers Del Potro as he Moves on to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open

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The hype preceding the third round match between Roger Federer and Juan Del Potro was off the decibel meter as these two set to collide in the third round at the Miami Open. Federer conquered the Argentine 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round.

After two wrists surgeries over the last few years, Del Potro has slowly worked his way back to a ranking of 29. This was the 21st match between the two. Del Potro had beaten the former world number one in the U.S. Open final in 2009 as well as in the final at his home town tournament, Basel, in 2012. Although Federer has a 15-5 mark against the Argentine, Del Potro had won 3 of their ultimate 5 meetings.

The opening set was uneventful until the sixth game when a backhand down the line winner gave Federer double break point. Del Potro rebounded with a couple of great serves to level the set at 3 all. But, he could not escape a second time. Subsequent to a untroubled hold by the reigning Australian Open champion, Del Potro again was asked to overcome 15-40. This time around, when Federer’s forehand pass landed for a winner, he secured the break for 5-3.

Del Potro put up some stiff resistance the next game, getting to 15-40 with a beautiful forehand crosscourt winner. Federer replied with an unreturnable serve and forehand down the line winner for deuce. Two more chances to break for Del Potro went unclaimed. Eventually, two consecutive volley winners allowed Federer to take the set.

The second set was similar to the first with Federer manufacturing 15-40 in the fifth game. Because of a sleuth of miscues by Del Potro, Federer went on to collect the break and swiftly consolidated for 4-2. In the eighth game, Del Potro had an opportunity to break and get back on serve. But, the Argentine’s forehand, his best stroke, failed him. Federer served out the match and booked his place in the round of 16.

Does Del Potro feel a bit unlucky having to deal with the likes of Federer or Novak Djokovic so early in these tournaments? “It’s the luck that I have because of my rankings. Someone has to play them. Physically, I was okay.”

Still, Del Potro is encouraged by his performance today “I had my chances in both sets with break points. But Federer played solid in the important moments. You don’t have to play perfect tennis against Federer to win, but you have to capitalize on your chances. . you have to look at the positive side. At the start of 2016, my dream was just to get back on court, to compete again. I did not expect the success that I had at the Olympics and Davis Cup. I have not hit a two handed backhand for a long time until this tournament which is one of the things that I realize. Once I get back the backhand, it will be less physically taxing on my game.”

The statistics were spectacular for the 18 time major holder who hit 29 winners and committed only 19 unforced miscues. So the Swiss was pretty pleased with his outing. Was it really as uncomplicated as it appeared ? “It depends a little bit on your angle. I felt that I was in control and I was able to generate more chances than he did. . . Out of nowhere, I felt he got his chances, maybe because I dropped my level ever so slightly and gave him a few easy points. . .. I was more the aggressor. It was more on my racket. I like it that way”

The complexion of the match could have been altered if Del Potro had seized one of his opportunities especially in the initial set. Federer expounded “looking back, that was probably the key. I knew when he had the break point at 15-40, if I could dig my way out of that game, instead of being broken, hold and win the set, it’s a good escape. Juan Martin didn’t play his best because he did have his chances there on second serves and he could have done better, maybe played more aggressive, who knows what. But I hit some good shots to stay in there.”

The stadium was packed and the vibe was scorching like the South Florida sun. What did Federer think? “shortly before I walked out to the court you could sense the atmosphere. That’s when I told myself, just be prepared for something different. I think if the match would have gone three sets or tiebreakers or something even closer, would have been really epic. . . it was just really a great, nice atmosphere. A lot of pleasure playing him. Nice weather. Great opponent. Great crowd.”

Up to last season, Federer had a relatively injury free career. Because of his extended hiatus, his ranking suffered. Bumping into rivals prior to the quarters or semis will occur “If we’re all ranked outside of the top eight it’s going to happen more frequently naturally. That’s why Indian Wells maybe I’m to blame. I had a chance in Dubai to get into the top eight and I didn’t make it by losing in the second round. Then of course I got lucky or earned my way forward in Australia. If I would have lost early there I would’ve been outside of the top 30 and would have taken a while to get back into the top eight.”

With age come responsibility and wisdom. Consequently, foremost on Federer’s mind is “to be a bit more clever in terms of scheduling overall. Unfortunately, I can’t do it all. I can’t chase the Davis Cup and the slams and play all the Masters 1000s. At some point something has to give, unfortunately. I wish I could do it all like when I was 24 years old. . .I have to take some important decisions that work well for me as a tennis player, but then also for my family and my whole team. . .get the rest that I need, but then also play enough matches. If you don’t play enough normally you kind of lose touch of how to play break points, save break points, the shoulder gets rusty. Who knows what it is? You need the right balance. I think that’s more key than ever right now.”

At 35, is returning to number one a goal for Federer? “It’s not the priority. Health needs to be the priority. That’s why if I were to get there again I have to really win a lot of big tournaments, and I know how hard that is. I tried to do it for the last five years. So as long as I’m healthy, I feel like I can play good tennis, enjoy myself, I can beat – hopefully – some of the best players in the world, or most of them, and win tournaments as well. The rankings is very secondary.”

Most athletes come at a crossroad in their career because injury, it’s a factor in the sport. Federer states “two years ago. . . I was not 100%. At some point you just feel like in those kind of circumstances, Masters 1000s towards the end when you have to back it up day after day or play four-, five-setters every second day against the best, it’s not going to be enough at the very end. The margins are too small for anybody up there. . .very disappointing, when you realize that you’re ready to do it mentally. . .something physically is hindering you from really actually going all out. That’s how I felt. That’s why after playing like this for virtually four months, doing so much rehab and it feels like you’re having a cloud in your head all the time because you’re doing so much treatment. You hope you’re going to be better the next day. Rather than focusing on the nice weather, the nice crowd, and the good opponent you’re going to face, you’re actually hoping your knee is going to hold up. . . It’s okay to do that for a couple of weeks or for a few tournaments during the season. If you do it every single day for a month, that’s when you have to, in my opinion, take a break and rest and come back properly. That’s what I did, and I cannot believe the way it paid off actually.”

Upcoming fourth round opponent for Federer is Roberto Baustista Agut. The Spaniard dispatched Sam Querrey 3-6,6-2, 6-3. Although Federer won their five previous encounters, he knows the Spaniard is no push over “I respect Bautista Agut a lot. Was watching his match against Querrey and I really thought Querrey was playing great in the first set. I thought that at some point he was going steamroll, but that’s what Bautista Agut does so well. He competes so well point for point, day in day out, and he plays ton of tournaments, and he’s really just match tough. He may be hurt. He was taping his feet. . .I am sure he was in pain and he found a way it get it done in the end. . .I hope I can use my variation to really make him feel uncomfortable. Looking forward to backing it up tomorrow now. It’s not something I’m actually used to, playing back-to-back days. So I hope my body is going to be fine tomorrow.”

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Marvelous Monday at Miami Open Features Federer versus Del Potro as the Marquee Match

Marvelous Monday at Miami Open Features Federer versus Del Potro as the Marquee Match

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From the outset of the draw, the most anticipated potential third round encounter was Roger Federer against Juan Martin Del Potro. The fans got their wish since these two will battle it out for a fourth round berth.

Secondary to injury, Del Potro has off the tennis circuit for long stretches at a time the last four years. The last time Federer and he collided was in 2013 at the Barclays’ world tour finals. Federer holds a 15-5 record over the Argentine. As always the X-factor is the South American fans. Without question, the stadium will be sizzling which means anything can happen.

After the heights of Federer and Del Potro, John Isner clashes with youngster Alexander Zverev. The 19 year old, currently ranked 20th, won their sole prior meeting at the 2016 ATP Masters tournament in Shanghai.

For the women, the daytime’s most compelling match is Garbine Muguruza taking on former world number one Caroline Wozniacki. The 2016 French Open champion clawed her way to this stage needing three sets in both matches while Wozniacki sailed through. Muguruza has a 3-1 lead in their head to head. However, the two have not competed against each other since 2015.

Top seed Stanislas Wawrinka has the honor of opening the night session against 33 year old Tunisian veteran Malek Jaziri who is this far at Miami Open for the first time. He has a Herculean task in keeping his hopes for a fourth round spot alive as the two meet for the first time.

The night ends with two former Miami Open champions Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova duking it out for a quarterfinal spot. They’ve fought it out on court nine times previously with the Russian banking 5 wins over the American.

With the women seeking advancement to the quarterfinals, there is a plethora of interesting matches to pick from on Monday including world number one Angelique Kerber’s and second seed Karolina Pliskova’s.

Click here for for Monday’s complete order of play.

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Venus Williams and Kerber Move on to the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

Venus Williams and Kerber Move on to the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

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Three time Miami Open champion Venus Williams took another step forward in the hope of seizing another trophy at the Miami Open. She defeated 22 year old Romanian qualifier Patricia Maria Tig 6-3, 6-0 to advance to the fourth round where she will face 2006 winner and 2016 finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian put a stop to American qualifier Taylor Townsend’s dream run with a 6-4, 6-2 triumph.

The first point of the match was a double fault by Williams. The 36 year old struggled to find the rhythm on her first serve which cost her in the third game, permitting Tig to capitalize on break point for 2-1. Undeterred, Williams broke back at love to even up the scoreboard.

Up to that point, the Romanian had been quite impressive knocking out Heather Watson of Great Britain in her maiden main draw match. Subsequently, she dismissed 2017 Indian Wells semifinalist and 18th seed Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets.

Once up 4-3, Venus seemed to find her form and by feasting on the second serve offerings by Tig. She got the second break of the set for 5-3. Later with a winner, she closed out the deal on her serve.

The 2017 Australian Open finalist and 7 time major title holder cruised through the second set pocketing six successive games to get to the next stage.

Williams did not get out of the gate as expected, “I’ve never played her, so you have to get used to patterns or rhythm. So I thought she played well. She’s got a great game. Every game was competitive. Definitely a lot of credit to her.”

As the adage goes, it’s not how one starts but finishes. Venus turned on the afterburner in the second set “no matter what, I’m going to leave everything on the court: all my guts, blood, sweat, tears. Obviously you don’t want to wait until you’re a set down to find your best game. Today I was quite happy to acclimate quicker.”

On court coaching has been an aspect of the sport that Venus has hardly utilized, she likes to earn her victories the old fashion way “I hadn’t thought a ton about it. From my understanding, on-court coaching was supposed to be a selling point to build the game and get more interest . . . If it’s doing that, then it’s a plus. We want the game to grow and people to watch because it’s exciting. I don’t necessarily have an opinion. If it’s helping the game, I’m like down. I’m good.”

Regarding her next challenge, Kuznetsova who holds a 5-4 lead in their head to head, Venus made these comments pre match ” We’ve had a lot of great matches. I played her in the very beginning of her career and now we both have had great careers that are continuing to be amazing. I know her game. I don’t think there will be any surprises. She knows mine. I just want to continue to control the court. That’s what I’ll try to do.”

Earlier in the day, world number one and top seed Angelique Kerber had to work to obtain a 6-4, 7-5 win over American Shelby Rogers. In the first set, the top seed fell behind 3-0. However, she went on a five game streak to move ahead 5-4. Soon, with Rogers committing her 21st miscue, Kerber had triple set point which she banked as the American misfired again.

In the second set, with Rogers’ backhand winner clipping the line, Kerber faced triple break point. As the 2 time major champion dumped a forehand into the net, Rogers secured a 4-2 edge. But her joy lasted only a few minutes. The very next game she surrendered the advantage due to a litany of mistakes. In the eleventh game, Kerber allowed her opponent to press while she stayed consistent with her stroke. That strategy banked her the break for 6-5. With a swift hold, she punched her ticket into the round of 16.

Next up for the German will be 23 year old Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki who upset 16th seed Kiki Bertens in the second round, then booted Julia Goerges ranked 47th.

Madison Keyes’ comeback from left wrist surgery is still a work in progress. Today the world number 9 was send packing by Lara Arruabarrena, ranked 72nd, 7-5, 7-5.

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Federer Pushed but Unfazed to Earn a Third Round Spot at the Miami Open

Federer Pushed but Unfazed to Earn a Third Round Spot at the Miami Open

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The customary sentiment when one is 19 years old and sees a living legend across the net as the opponent is panic. By the time, the realization has set that it is an actual competition, the score line usually reads something like 0-6 with the first set evaporating in less than half an hour. Frances Tiafoe may be young, but he demonstrated a maturity today that will serve him well in the future as he faced the 18 time majors champion, Roger Federer. Although the Swiss master penned another in the win column, he was tested by the teenager in his 7-6, 6-3 victory in the second round at the Miami Open.

Ranked 101, Tiafoe worked his way into the main draw by qualifying. Then, he prevailed in the first round to earn his date with the reigning Australian Open champion. In the opening game, the American gave a nice account of himself, not getting frazzled after a 40-love lead dwindled to 40-30. With a nice backhand down the line winner, Tiafoe kept the proceeding on serve at 2-1.

As the competitors waited in the tunnel for their names to be announced, Federer was jovial and relaxed, chatting with the kid tasked with carrying his bag on court. To the contrary, Tiafoe had his racket bag on his back, concentrating intently not to let nerves creep up, not glancing long at his opponent. As he once mentioned Federer is “too smooth to emulate. He makes it look too easy. He is everybody’s idol.”

Federer kept his cool in the eight and tenth games, serving consecutive love games to put the set on an even footing twice. Later, it was Tiafoe’s turn to get comfortably to 6-5. When the former world number one saw a breathtaking backhand winner whiz for 0-15, he did not blink. Ultimately, Federer pushed the set into a tiebreaker with an ace. From that point on, Federer’s experience shone. Subsequent to securing the first point and mini-break with a volley winner, Federer cruised to capture the set.

After surrendering the first set with a bevy of unforced errors, Tiafoe rebounded by seizing the first break chance in the match to start the second set. However, his joy was ephemeral as Federer created two chances of his own and shortly leveled the set. Another testy moment in the contest was the fourth game. With three miscues, Tiafoe dug himself a 0-40 hole. The youngster shoveled himself out to reach 2 all. Yet, soon his next time serving the American stared at 15-40, Federer applied the accelerator to grab the break. The Swiss promptly sealed a love game with an ace to consolidate and move ahead 5-2. Still, for Tiafoe, there was no let down as he held serve and forced Federer to earn the win. The world number six did so with an easy service game.

Following the match, Federer reflected “I’ve hit with Frances maybe twice before: Once at the French and once at the US Open. There he surprised me . . .I saw the power he had, the explosivity he had, how he easily can generate pace. So I think he’s going to be really good, like most of the NextGen campaign . . . they’re pushing each other up right now. They have a good dynamic. They are quite friendly also with one another yet they have good rivalry.” He also praised the youngster for not letting the moment overwhelm him “I think the question was always how was he going to come out. It’s the question for any player. Also for me. How can you start a match? [He] seemed to be fearless, no problem, good serving, taking the ball early, making the plays. And that I like to see”

Hard to phantom, but at 35, Federer still gets jittery at the start of an event “even though I was pretty relaxed before the match . . .Yesterday I got these flashes of, Ooh, it’s going to be exciting. Then you walk out on court and there is always a big roar here in Miami . . it’s nice to get it over and done with on the winning side. You feel quite relieved to some extent because you know it can be dangerous. I don’t know his patterns well, or at all. I was actually playing very well. He stayed with me for very long time. That can make you nervous if maybe I wouldn’t have been so confident.”

With possibly, 14,000 sets of eyes watching, this is the biggest stage that Tiafoe has been on up to now. When Federer deferred and asked him to serve, admittedly, it amped up his anxiety level. “At first, I think he was feeling my game, didn’t know what to expect I think”.

When asked what is the primary lesson to take from this encounter, Tiafoe cited that he is encouraged by the way he played and that the goal will be to work hard on his game so that the next time he encounters such a big name it won’t be as early in the tournament. What does he feel he could improve “my return game”. Since the American pinpointed at least one aspect of his game which requires improvement, that alone is progress.

As Federer emphasized “I hope he’s going to learn a lot from a match like this just because playing on a center court with a lot of people, under pressure, saving break points, making break points, playing breakers. That’s what it’s about, and it should feed a player like him with a lot of energy moving forward hopefully. . .we both played very well and both can maybe walk away from this match quite happy, which is not often in tennis that that’s maybe the case.”

Looking to the third round, Federer could collide with Juan Martin Del Potro “I would love to play against him. I’m happy for him with his comeback, winning at Davis Cup. . .I should have played him here last year but I was sick. It’s better to play him this time around when we’re both better. . . We’ve had some epic matches against each other: Semis at the French, Olympic semis, finals at the US Open.” But as the great one himself pointed out “I’m sure the crowd would love to see it. Robin Haase is going to have a say about that, as we know.”

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Federer Top Billing on Saturday at the Miami Open

Federer Top Billing on Saturday at the Miami Open

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First on Stadium Saturday at the Miami Open, Stanislas Wawrinka takes on Horacio Zeballos. The world number three holds a 2-0 record against Zeballos who had his best results at this event last year as a lucky loser. After Roger Federer pulled out due to illness, he shocked both Juan Martin Del Potro and Fernando Verdasco to advance to the round of 16 before being stopped by David Goffin. Consequently, with the Argentinian fans behind him and fond memories, Zeballos could present a challenge for the men’s top seed.

Later on in the afternoon, Wawrinka’s compatriot Federer begins his quest for the coveted Indian Wells, Miami Open double trophy, something he has not accomplished in over a decade. The 35 year old, 18 time major champion faces American rising star, 19 year old Frances Tiafoe. This will be their first meeting. The dynamic should be interesting dynamic considering the venue and the disparity in their resume.

A few day matches on the men’s column which are must see include, Sam Querrey versus Tommy Robredo and John Isner versus wildcard
Thomaz Bellucci.

On the women’s side, after her narrow escape in three sets on Friday, needing a rain delay and saving a match point against Christina McHale, Spain’s Garbine Murguruza returns for her third round match against China’s Shuia Zhang. The two met for the first time in Doha this year in the round of 16 with Zhang pulling off the upset. Thus, Murguruza will hungry for payback.

Another compelling day session match is Agnieszka Radwanska versus Mirjana Lucic- Baroni. The Croatian stunned 2012 Miami Open Champion in the second round this year at the Australian Open on route to her semifinal berth for the first time at a major since Wimbledon 1999. So, revenge will be on the agenda for the Pole without question.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova and fifth seed Dominika Cibulkova also are back on court for their third round matches as well as 2015 French Open finalist Lucie Safarova.

The honor of closing out the night on the men’s side belongs to Juan Martin Del Potro as he tussles with Robin Haase. With a 2-0 record over the Dutch and with the South American crowd likely to be in full force, Del Potro will likely book a projected date with Federer for the third round.

For the ladies, Sorona Cirstea battles Caroline Wozniacki to end the evening. It will be a riveting contest considering their close head to head of 4-3 with the former world number one having the edge.

Click here for Saturday’s complete order of play.

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Fabulous Friday at the Miami Open Features Nadal and Nishikori in Action

Fabulous Friday at the Miami Open Features Nadal and Nishikori in Action

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Friday the men will be the main attraction at the Miami Open as top ten players finally take court for second round play. The initial ATP match on display in Stadium Court showcases world number four Kei Nishikori against Kevin Anderson. The two played on three previous occasions all in 2015. Nishikori holds a 2-1 advantage in the win column. A former top 10 player, Anderson’s ranking has fallen to 74 due to niggling injury the last two seasons. However in looking to rebound, the 6 foot 8 inch South African will be quite a handful for Nishikori last year’s Miami Open finalist.

Later on in the afternoon, four time Miami Open finalist Rafael Nadal, with the absence of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, begins his hunt for his first title in South Florida. Standing in the way in his maiden match is Dudi Sela. They’ve battled once before at the Australian Open with The Spaniard prevailing comfortably in three sets.

In the evening session, Grigor Dimitrov collides with Guido Pella on Stadium court. Two years ago, they duked it out with Dimitrov edging the Argentine out in two tough sets 7-6,6-4. Ranked 13th in the world, Dimitrov should handle his opponent, now at 178, with ease. But factoring in that the Argentinian will have plenty of support from the pro South American crowd, things might get dicey for the Bulgarian.

American Jack Sock fresh off his semifinal run at Indian Wells faces off against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka who himself as a lucky loser in the desert, had the tournament of his young tennis life so far. Nishioka shocked Ivo Karlovic and Tomas Berdych to arrive at the round of 16. He nearly collected his biggest scalp against Miami Open top seed Stanislas Wawrinka before succumbing in a third set tiebreaker after failing to close out the match twice after being up a break. In their second meeting, Sock hopes to do better than their first in Acapulco this year since he was unable to collect the W.

On the ladies’ side, with sister Serena sideline by injury, Venus Williams carries the family’s hope for this Miami Open. The three time champion last made an appearance in the finals in 2010 with an unfavorable result. She clashes with Beatriz Haddad Maia for the first time in the second round. Also, World number one Angelique Kerber starts her campaign for the title, looking to improving on her best showing in South Florida which was a semifinal berth in 2016. The German contends with China’s Ying-Ying Duan, the two have never battled.

Click here for Friday’s complete order of play.

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On Tap Thursday at the Miami Open:  Pliskova, Muguruza and Wozniacki

On Tap Thursday at the Miami Open: Pliskova, Muguruza and Wozniacki


IMG_0720_MuguruzaIt’s an all American ladies’ line up on Stadium court at the Miami Open on Thursday as second round action gets underway. World number 3 Karolina Pliskova opens play on center court against American Madison Brengle. Later in the afternoon, 2012 Miami Open semifinalist and former world number one Carolina Wozniacki battles another American Varvara Lepchenko. The night cap has reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza taking on Christina McHale. With the former Spaniard by way of Venezuela, it should be an electric evening on Miami’s main show court.

On the men’s side, 19 year old American qualifier Frances Tiafoe tussles with Russsian Konstantin Kravchuk in his first round match. 20 year old promising Croatian Borna Coric precedes Tifae’s match as he squares off against Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers. Novak Djokovic’s slayer in the second round at this year’s Australian Open, Denis Istomin, faces Russian Andrey Kusznetsov.

Still, the day belongs to the women undoubtedly as 2012 Miami Open Champion Agnieszka Radwanska hopes to get back on track with a victory over China’s Qiang Wang. Australian Open 2017 semifinalist Coco Wandeweghe tries continue her wonderful 2017 with a deep run in South Florida. She takes on qualifier Jana Cepelova. Newly minted Indian Wells titlist Elena Vesnina starts her quest for the double crown as she looks to breeze through against Ajla Tomljanovic.

Click here for Thursday’s complete order of play.

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Roger Federer Set to Return to the Miami Open

Roger Federer Set to Return to the Miami Open

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Roger Federer will be returning to Key Biscayne later this year to take part in the 2017 Miami Open. The 17 time Major Champion announced on his website that he has added the Miami Open to his 2017 schedule.

The two-time Miami Open champion last appeared in Miami in 2014. In 2016 Roger Federer was forced to withdraw from his opening match against Juan Martin del Potro due to a stomach virus.

The 2017 Miami Open will take place March 20 through April 2, 2017 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida. Click here for ticket packages to the 2017 Miami Open.

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Djokovic Dominates Nishikori to Win Miami Open for Sixth Time

Djokovic Dominates Nishikori to Win Miami Open for Sixth Time

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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.”

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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 tenngrand.com. 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

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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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