Tag Archive | "ATP Masters Miami"

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

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

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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

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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

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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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2015 Miami Open Player Field Announced

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2015 Miami Open Player Field Announced


IMG_8310_DjkokovicThe 2015 Miami Open is set to take place from March 23 – April 5. Today, the tournament announced the field of players that will be taking to the courts at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will both be returning to Miami to defend their titles from 2014. From the ATP, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro are also on the acceptance list. From the WTA, Maria Sharapova is still looking to claim her first Miami title. Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova are also on the roster. A complete rundown of the acceptance list is provided in the tournament’s press release below.

Miami Open Field Once Again Unrivaled on Tour Calendar

The hottest ticket in tennis returns to Miami featuring the best players in the world

MIAMI, Fl. (www.miamiopen.com) – The Miami Open may have a new name, but the Grand Slam-quality player field it delivers each spring remains the same. The event received its 2015 official acceptance lists from the ATP and WTA tours and, once again, the line-up is unrivaled among tour events.

With 74 of the top 75 ranked men, including all of the top 50, and each of the top 75 ranked women, the Miami Open player field ranks best on the tennis calendar. The 15 combined Grand Slam Champions, seven men and eight women, scheduled to compete at this year’s tournament are more than any other event on the tours outside of the Grand Slams. Whether you are looking to see a future Hall of Famer, a multiple Grand Slam champion, or a rising star, all will be on display at the Crandon Park Tennis Center during the event’s two weeks, March 23- April 5.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LISTINGS

Tickets to the 2015 Miami Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or online at www.miamiopen.com. An exhilarating two weeks of tennis, fashion, food and fun conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 4 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 5.

Individual session tickets start at just $31 and packages begin at only $136. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of the most glamorous event on both tours.

The 2015 ATP acceptance list features World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, the defending Miami Open champion and reigning Australian Open champ; 17-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer; 14-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal; two-time Grand Slam and Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray; and former US Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro.

The women’s field for 2015 is fierce, featuring 19-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who is the defending Miami Open winner and became the winningest player, male or female, in tournament history when she captured her seventh Miami Open title last year. Seven-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams, five-time Grand Slam champion and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova, two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka and defending Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova are also entered to compete.

Fans will also see last year’s break out stars Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, and Marin Cilic, the surprise winner at the US Open as they make a run for the Miami Open title. On the women’s side rising stars Eugenie Bouchard, a 2014 Wimbledon finalist, and American Madison Keys, who made her first semi-finals appearance at a Grand Slam at this year’s Australian Open, will also be in action.

The Miami Open is more than just a tennis event. Located in one of the world’s most beautiful vacation destinations with a diverse fan base and exquisite dining and luxury shopping offerings, the Miami Open has an energy and excitement that is uniquely Miami.

Qualifying rounds will be played March 23-24 and will determine 12 additional slots in each singles draw. The Miami Open will also award wildcards to five men and eight women. The main draw begins on Tuesday, March 24 as the women take the court, followed by the first round of the men’s main draw on Wednesday, March 25.

About the Miami Open presented by Itaú

The 2015 Miami Open will be played March 23-April 5 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.

About Itaú

Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.

About IMG

IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion and media operating in more than 25 countries around the world. IMG’s businesses include Events & Media, College, Golf, Tennis, Performance and IMG Academy, Fashion, Models, Clients, Licensing, Joint Ventures, and creative management agency Art + Commerce. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency. Together, the companies offer an unparalleled client roster; strategic partnerships with sponsors and brands; and marquee assets across sports, entertainment, events, music and fashion.

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Djokovic downs Nadal for fourth Sony Open title in Miami

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Djokovic downs Nadal for fourth Sony Open title in Miami



IMG_8540_DjokovicMiami, Ricky Dimon
The fourth time was not the charm for Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, made his fourth time look easy.

Djokovic captured his fourth title at the Sony Open Tennis tournament and dropped Nadal to 0-4 for his career in Miami finals with a 6-3, 6-3 rout on Sunday afternoon. The Serb saved the only break point he faced the entire way in the very first game of the match before cruising in one hour and 23 minutes.

After missing his chance at 30-40 in the opening game, Nadal was rarely competitive. He dropped serve at 2-3 in the first set and Djokovic was off to the races. Miami’s No. 2 seed lost a combined two points in his next two service games to bag the opener. It was all but over when Djokovic broke right away to begin the second with a crushing backhand winner.

For good measure, Djokovic capped off the match in style with his third break of the day. The two competitors saved their best point for last, with Nadal serving at 3-5, 15-40. A furious rally ended when Djokovic answered a backhand volley by the Spaniard with a forehand into the open court.

“This tournament has been perfect from the beginning to the end,” Djokovic reflected. “The matches that I have played I played really well, and I elevated my game as the tournament progressed. The best performance of the tournament came in the right moment on Sunday against the biggest rival.”

“Just the fact that I’m playing against Nadal and playing in the finals, fighting for (the) trophy is already a huge motivation and responsibility to try to perform my best and to kind of be at the right intensity and right focus. I didn’t have any letdowns throughout the whole match. I was in a very high level; serve, backhand, cross-court, forehand…. I have done everything right and I’m thrilled with my performance.”

Nadal did not have to offer much analysis of his own game, because his opponent was simply too good.

“Easy to analyze,” the world No. 1 assured. “[Djokovic] was better than me. That’s it. Some matches are more difficult to say. This one was not that difficult in general. He was better than me in everything.

“Today I felt that he played great, but I feel that he doesn’t need to hit a great shot to be an advantage on the point. So playing against him is the worst thing that can happen for me, because in general, talking about the first two shots, he has a better return than my one, he has a better serve than my one. In this surface especially.”

The surface now changes to clay after a week of Davis Cup quarterfinal action. Nadal and Djokovic are expected back on court for the Monte-Carlo Masters next month.

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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Nadal overcomes Raonic, joins Berdych in Sony Open semifinals

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Nadal overcomes Raonic, joins Berdych in Sony Open semifinals



IMG_8089_NadalMiami, Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal passed his first real test of the Sony Open Tennis tournament with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic during semifinal action on Thursday night. Nadal held his last nine service games and won 20 of 24 service points in the third set before advancing in two hours and 35 minutes.

Raonic had never taken a set off Nadal in four previous meetings and the underdog was going up against an opponent who had dropped a mere nine games in his first three Miami matches. Still, Raonic showed plenty of belief. The 6’5” Canadian saved all three of the break points he faced in the opening frame of play and clinched it when Nadal double-faulted down set point at 4-5.

From there, however, it was all Nadal. The top-ranked Spaniard surged to a 4-0 lead in the second set and earned the decisive break at 3-3 in the third.

“I was lucky at the beginning of the second set,” Nadal explained. “I started with a break and (that) was very important for me. I felt that I finished the match playing better. I think I started the match playing okay, playing well but not playing well (on) the break points.”

Next up for the No. 1 seed is Tomas Berdych, who got the best of Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-6(3). Berdych fired 11 aces and battled back from a break down in each of the two sets as he prevailed in one hour and 45 minutes. Dolgopolov, an Indian Wells semifinalist, was doomed by 48 percent serving and just 35 percent of his second-serve points won.

Berdych is now 4-0 lifetime against Dolgopolov, but the story is a much different one against Nadal. The Czech trails the head-to-head series 17-3 and has lost 16 consecutive matches.

“I don’t even know the number, Berdych said, referring to his streak of futility with Nadal on the other side of the net “I stopped counting.”

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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Controversy, drama result in Djokovic vs. Nishikori semifinal at Sony Open

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Controversy, drama result in Djokovic vs. Nishikori semifinal at Sony Open


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Miami, Ricky Dimon
After a wild Wednesday at the Sony Open Tennis tournament in Miami, the first men’s singles semifinal is set. It will not be a rematch of the Indian Wells final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Instead, Djokovic will be going up against Kei Nishikori.

Djokovic beat Andy Murray 7-5, 6-3 before Nishikori upset Federer 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Despite the straightforward scoreline compared to that of the nightcap, even Djokovic’s quarterfinal win was not without some dramatic moments. With Murray serving at 5-5 in the first set, Djokovic appeared to reach over the net to put away a volley for a 0-15 lead. The Serb even admitted it, but chair umpire Damian Steiner said that the racket had made contact with the ball prior to crossing the net. Obviously disgusted although keeping his outward emotions mostly in check, Murray promptly dropped serve at love to end the set. That meant that Murray, who had earned a break point at 5-5, lost the final seven points of the opening frame.

“Look, I’m going to be completely honest with you,” Djokovic told the press. “I did pass the net with my racket and I told Andy that. I told him that I did not touch the net. My bad. I thought that it’s allowed, to cross on his side without touching the net. That’s why I thought I won the point.

“I did not know that the rule is that I’m not allowed to cross the net. That’s all I can say. At that point I told him, ‘I crossed the net.’ But I thought that it’s allowed without touching the net.”

“From where I was standing, it was a very hard thing to see, but it’s a lot easier if you’re looking straight across the net to see whether someone is over or not,” Murray explained. “For me, it’s impossible to tell from where I was, but I knew it was close. So that’s why I went and asked Novak, and he told me he was over the net. That was it.”

What the second semifinal lacked in controversy, it made up for in competitiveness. An in-form Federer seemed to be on his way to another dominant victory in Miami with a set and a break lead in hand, but Nishikori had other ideas. Japan’s top player had saved four match points to outlast David Ferrer in a third-set tiebreaker the previous day, so he was not about to go down without a fight.

Nishikori broke back then wrapped up each of the final two sets with breaks–at 6-5 in the second and 5-4 in the third. He now leads the head-to-head series against Federer 2-1.

“It’s really a pleasure to beat him and I’m happy to be in the semifinals,” Nishikori said. “I was down a break in the second set but I was returning well. I was serving well, especially in the third set, so that’s why I was holding my serve [easily]…. I thought I really played well. I was hitting both deep and striking well.”

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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Federer, Nadal remain on fire at Sony Open

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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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Nadal, Wawrinka remain on Sony Open semifinal collision course

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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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