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Federer, Nadal remain on fire at Sony Open

Federer, Nadal remain on fire at Sony Open

IMG_7422_FedererIt’s still a long way away with two of the greatest players of all time on opposite sides of the draw, but Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing like they want to deliver another installment of one of tennis’ best-ever rivalries in the final of the Sony Open Tennis tournament.

Federer and Nadal lost a combined lost a combined seven games in fourth-round blowouts on Tuesday. The fifth-ranked Swiss rolled over Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2 during the afternoon before Nadal eased past Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2 at night.

In three matches so far, Federer has not dropped a set and he has surrendered only nine games in total in his last two rounds. The Indian Wells runner-up turned in a near-flawless performance against Gasquet, striking six aces without double-faulting while converting five of six break chances and saving the only break point he faced.

“Things went well out on the court today,” Federer assured. “I served well. I made my returns I had to and stayed aggressive, so I didn’t let him just make errors. I forced him to do stuff. It was a good match for me.”

It was hardly a match at all for Nadal against an uninspired Fognini. The Italian never appeared to have any belief and he also moved gingerly with his thigh heavily taped. It all resulted in one hours and two minutes of one-way traffic. Miami’s No. 1 seed has now yielded a mere nine games in three matches at this event.

“I think I was very focused and solid with my serve,” Nadal explained. “That’s very important thing for me and my game when I am playing on hard.”

Andy Murray had a similarly routine day at the office in a 6-4, 6-1 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray lost a miniscule six points in eight service games while advancing in one hour and 13 minutes. Next up for the Scot is a showdown with Novak Djokovic, who defeated Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5.

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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Sharapova to face Serena in the Sony Open Semifinal

Sharapova to face Serena in the Sony Open Semifinal

IMG_7216_SharapovaIt will be a Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova semifinal at the Sony Open and both women defeated quarterfinal opponents in straight sets.

No. 1 Serena Williams made quick work of No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2 in the first match of the night session on Tuesday.

“I’m playing a little better,” Williams said. “I had to play better. As the tournament progresses you can’t get worse, you have to get better.

“I’m happy to be doing a little better.”

No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova came back from a break down in the first set in a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final to top Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1.

“I started getting more chances as we played more games in the first set,” Sharapova said.

“Little by little I started seeing more opportunities and started getting myself back in the points and playing my game, playing well, going inside the baseline.

“You never are sure until you finish the match and you win the last point, but I really felt like I started doing the right things.”

It will be Williams against Sharapova for a place in the Key Biscayne final. Williams holds an overwhelming lead against the Russian 15-2. The last time Sharapova beat Williams was back in 2004.

“I love playing her,” said the six-time Sony Open winner

Williams about playing Sharapova. “I really do. Doesn’t matter what surface or anything. She’s one of my favorite people to play.”

“It’s no secret that she’s been a big challenge of mine, an opponent that obviously I would love to beat,” Sharapova said. “There are certainly, you know, ways that I need to step up in certain situations that I haven’t been able to do in the past against her.”

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, Wawrinka remain on Sony Open semifinal collision course

Nadal, Wawrinka remain on Sony Open semifinal collision course

IMG_7164_NadalA rematch of this year’s Australian Open title match in the semifinals of the Sony Open Tennis tournament is looking more and more likely with each passing round. Rafael Nadal took care of Denis Istomin in round-of-32 action on Monday and Stanislas Wawrinka beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin, also in straight sets.

Nadal was especially ruthless. The world No. 1, whose Aussie Open final setback against Wawrinka was one of just two losses for him this season compared to 19 wins, destroyed Istomin 6-1, 6-0 in just 59 minutes. Nadal struck three aces without double-faulting, served at 77 percent, and saved all three of the break points he faced.

“I played a very complete match,” Miami’s top seed assured. “No mistakes, serving with good percentage, and playing a lot of winners. My movements were better than what I did (in the) last events.”

Wawrinka, whose last event also saw him tumble out of Indian Wells–like Nadal–prior to the quarterfinals, scored a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Roger-Vasselin. The third-ranked Swiss broke serve at 6-5 in the first and 5-4 in the second to wrap up both of the sets in style.

“[Roger-Vasselin] beat me last year in Basel; I won this year in final of Chennai,” Wawrinka reflected. “He’s always tough to play. I’m happy the way I was fighting, the way I was positive even if I wasn’t playing so well at the beginning.”

John Isner, the United States’ last hope even before the third round started, had little trouble from start to finish against Nicolas Almagro. Isner fought off two break points in the opening set but for the most part held serve comfortably the entire way in a 7-5, 6-3 win. The world No. 10 blasted 17 aces, put in 70 percent of his first deliveries, and lost only five points in five second-set service games.

Isner will face Tomas Berdych during a terrific fourth-round lineup on Tuesday. Other matches include Nadal vs. Fabio Fognini and Wawrinka vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov.

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, Sharapova advance to quarterfinals of Sony Open

Serena, Sharapova advance to quarterfinals of Sony Open

IMG_7084_SerenaIn a tale of two different matches, expected results as No. 1 Serena Williams and fourth seed Maria Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of the Sony Open on Monday.

Williams dismissed American countrywoman qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-1 to reach the elite 8 in Miami for the 13th time in 14 appearances.

After her first two matches in the tournament she showed some rust, Williams cleaned up her game hitting 17 winners to only 11 unforced errors and stopping all six break points she faced.

“I was definitely happier today,” Williams said. “I was really struggling my first two matches, so I just wanted to have a better performance today.”

Next up for Williams will be the No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

“It will be good to play a different opponent,” Williams said. “I feel like I have played the same person three times in a row. It will be nice to play a lefty, someone that just plays different.

“Angelique has been able to beat me in the past, so I have to be really focused and be ready in that match.”

Maris Sharapova had to reset from a first set drubbing to beat Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The Belgium jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and Sharapova could only win five points during those four games. In the second set Sharapova jumped out to a 4-0 lead, then Flipkens won 4 out of 5 games, but Sharapova broke serve to take the set 6-4.

“I usually like playing the first match, but I didn’t start off the way I wanted to,” Sharapova said. “Nothing was working.”

Sharapova’s momentum carried over into the final set where she kept her errors low and her aggression high, dropping only one more game.

Final stats for Sharapova- 36 unforced errors, 13 winners and 10 double-faults.

Sharapova will play the woman she lost to in the 2011 Wimbledon finals, No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Kvitova regrouped to stop Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.

“We haven’t played for a long time, but we have always had interesting, tough matches against each other,” Sharapova said.

Second seed Li Na took apart Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-0, 6-2.

Caroline Wozniacki continued her dominance over US players. For the second match in a row she gives up only 1 game in a 6-0, 6-1 win over Vavara Lepchenko.

In the night session, Dominika Cibulkova held back a fighting Venus Williams 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. In a rematch of the recent Australian Open semi Cibulkova will play Agniezska Radwanska.

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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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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