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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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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

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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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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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Nadal follows Federer in mass exodus of seeds out of Miami Open

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Nadal follows Federer in mass exodus of seeds out of Miami Open


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Miami, Ricky Dimon
Round two of the Miami Open was an unmitigated disaster for the tournament. It all started when Roger Federer withdrew on Friday due to illness, after which Juan Martin Del Potro lost to lucky loser Horacio Zeballos. It continued on Saturday, when Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka were ousted–albeit in much different fashions.

On a searingly hot day in Miami, Nadal succumbed to the conditions and retired while trailing Damir Dzumhur 2-6, 6-4, 3-0. The fifth-ranked Spaniard rolled through the opening set but he clearly began to fade in the second.

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“Everything was fine until end of the first set,” Nadal explained. “I start to feel myself not very good. It[was] getting worse, worse, and worse, so finally in the second set I realize that I was not able to keep playing. I tried to resist, but I [got] a little bit scared to be too dizzy. So I [called] the doctor a couple of times, but I felt that I was not safe. I wanted to finish the match, but I seriously could not.”

He wasn’t the only one.

Sergiy Stakhovsky, Thomaz Bellucci, and Aljaz Bedene also retired. Sam Querrey might as well have done the same. Serving at 4-5 in the third set against Adrian Mannarino, Querrey completely shut down–perhaps both mentally and physically. The American received a warning, reportedly for not giving an effort, and then incurred a match-ending point penalty at 0-40.

John Isner looked like he might retire against fellow American Tim Smyczek in their first set, as the world No. 13 struggled with both the heat and a left-knee issue. But he was saved, albeit temporarily, by cloud coverage and the setting sun. Isner battled back to force a third set but ultimately went down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5). He double-faulted twice in the final-set tiebreaker, including down match point. Isner’s last four losses have all come in third-set ‘breakers.

In other action on the Grandstand, Andrey Kuznetsov upset an out-of-sorts Stan Wawrinka. The fourth-ranked Swiss served at just 54 percent, won only 65 percent of his first-serve points, and lost way more than half of his second-serve points (18 of 32).

“Today was very tough to play [in] this weather, with these conditions” Kuznetsov assured. “I think it actually helped me a little bit, because I saw that Stan was also struggling with moving.”

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

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Federer and Del Potro Both Out, Djokovic and Ferrer Advance in Miami

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Federer and Del Potro Both Out, Djokovic and Ferrer Advance in Miami


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Miami, Ricky Dimon

There was no rematch of the 2009 U.S. Open final on Friday at the Miami Open. The highly-anticipated showdown between Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro did not come to fruition because Federer withdrew early in the afternoon due to illness. Gastroenteritis was the official reason for the former world No. 1’s absence.

Federer took the practice court for a light warmup with coach Ivan Ljubicic around noon, hitting a few balls and working on some serves. He left after 30 minutes without signing any autographs. Speculation ran rampant that something was amiss with the Swiss, who had been set to make his first appearance since the Australian Open. A knee injury had sidelined Federer for all of February and from Indian Wells.

Lucky loser Horacio Zeballos took Federer’s place, resulting in an all-Argentine affair with Del Potro. Despite suddenly staring at a much more favorable draw, Del Potro could not take advantage. Still experiencing pain in his left wrist, the 27-year-old lost 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes.

Zeballos completely dominated on serve, surrendering only nine points in 10 service games. One break in each set was enough for the world No. 112, and the second came with Del Potro trying to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second. A shanked overhead by Del Potro brought up match point and he sent a forehand just past the baseline to end it.

“I was suffering a little bit,” he admitted. “It was worse than my first match, but I hope nothing dangerous. I will see what’s going on after today and see if I can practice tomorrow–if I can hit again [a] backhand.

“They said before this is a long road to get better; not to play well or to win matches, just to get better and to play tennis again. I’m looking forward for that. For me it’s like surprise when I win a match in this moment because I’m not 100 percent yet. But I’m here. Of course I’m suffering in moments, but I’m playing tennis–bad or really bad, but I’m playing. That’s good for me.”

What’s not good for the tournament is the early exits of Federer and Del Potro. The third-round matchup in that section of the draw is now Zeballos vs. Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Jeremy Chardy.

Other winners on Friday were Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Steve Johnson, Benoit Paire, Marin Cilic, David Ferrer, Gilles Simon, and David Goffin. Tomas Berdych advanced via a walkover from Rajeev Ram. Djokovic kicked off the night session by defeating 21-year-old Brit Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-3.

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

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Federer is Back at the Miami Open, Faces Del Potro in Round Two

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Federer is Back at the Miami Open, Faces Del Potro in Round Two


IMG_1793_FedererAfter a few months’ hiatus due to knee surgery, Roger Federer is once again holding court. His initial stop is the Miami Open which marks the two time champion’s return to the Magic City since 2014.

In his first match, the 17 time major holder squares off against Juan Martin Del Potro the 2009 U.S. Open winner. The Argentine himself is on the road back from injury after a second wrist surgery sidelined him for almost two years. Del Potro bounced fellow countryman Guido Pella in straight sets last evening in order to book a second round date with the Swiss. Federer leads in their head to head 15-5. However, of late, their matches have been quite close with Del Potro besting Federer at home to take the title in Basel in 2012 and 2013.

At today’s press conference preceding this marquee showdown, Federer discussed a myriad of topics including the upcoming match.

Reflecting back on his injury, Federer cited ” very sad when I did get the news I did have to have an operation because I thought I was going to get through my career without any. It was a big shock. . . I’m excited. Anxious to find out how it’s going to react, is it going to be different day-to-day, how is it going to feel after the match and so forth. I’m just really pleased that I’m here. Couldn’t be more happy how rehab has gone. It’s baby steps. Still at the same time you go from crutches to walking to running to jumping to sprinting. It’s pretty incredible to see the progress I’ve been able to make in a short period of time.”

About his opponent, Federer commented ” I like Juan Martin. We’ve had good matches over the years, Paris, five sets twice, US Open obviously. It’s nice to see him back. I haven’t seen him play at all since he’s been back, so I’m not quite sure what to expect. At the end I’m going to focus on my own game tomorrow, my own mind, managing my problems that I’ve had the last few months. Just also enjoy it out there. We’re both in a similar situation. His injury was much, much greater. That’s why I’m really pleased for him that he was able to find a way back onto the tour.”

Tennis has seen it’s share of controversies in 2016 from match fixing to Maria Sharapova’s revelation of use of a prohibited substance, the season only three months old. The latest involves parity in prize money regardless of gender. Here is Federer’s take on the subject ” we don’t always get the same like the women, as well. I think it depends on what tournaments we are talking about . . . I’m all for equal prize money. When I was fighting for prize money increases, especially at the slam level, I was always very aware of the fact that it was always going to impact the women’s game, which I was very happy about. . . But then you have to look at the history of each and every event. Some tournaments were a men’s tournament, then the women joined or vice versa. It’s sometimes hard to make equal prize money there. It’s up to the tournament director to decide if he wants it to be that way. It’s already happening here, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid as well, all the slams. I’m happy that tennis has produced some of the greatest female athletes in the world. . . It’s a great platform. Equal prize money is a good thing.”

Federer’s campaign for the Miami Open title will be treacherous with world number one Novak Djokovic a likely semifinal rival should he get that far. The Swiss master’s first ball strike is on Friday.

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Del Potro wins all-Argentine affair, will face Federer on Friday in Miami

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Del Potro wins all-Argentine affair, will face Federer on Friday in Miami


IMG_9379_DelPotroMiami, Ricky Dimon

It will be Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin Del Potro in round two of the Miami Open on Friday afternoon.

Del Potro assured that the highly-anticipated showdown would become a reality when he got the best of fellow Argentine Guido Pella 6-0, 7-6(3) on the opening day of main-draw action on Wednesday night. The former world No. 4 held all nine of his service games to advance after one hour and 29 minutes.

Contesting his third tournament of 2016, Del Potro got off to an emphatic start at the expense of his countryman. Pella had been in outstanding form following a February swing that included a runner-up finish in Rio de Janeiro, but he had no answer for Del Potro in the first set. The world No. 39 won just 14 points in the opener and failed to convert any of his two break opportunities.

Pella managed to make the second set competitive even though he became even more hopeless against his opponent’s serve. Del Potro surrendered only seven points in his last six service games but was pushed to a tiebreaker soon after missing a match point with Pella serving at 4-5. Pella got a mini-break back late in the ‘breaker with a net-cord winner, but Del Potro won two consecutive return points at 5-4 and 6-4 to seal the deal.

“I made it through and I’m so, so happy for the chance to play against Roger after tomorrow,” Del Potro told the crowd.

Due to the world No. 366’s recent inactivity related to multiple left-wrist surgeries, Federer and Del Potro have not squared off since the 2013 World Tour Finals. Before Del Potro started succumbing to physical problems, this rivalry was shaping up to be one of the sport’s best even though Federer has a comfortable 15-5 lead in the head-to-head series. The two veterans have engaged in several memorable meetings, including in the 2009 U.S. Open final (won by Del Potro) and in the semis of the 2012 London Olympics (won by Federer).

Joining Del Potro in the Miami second round on Wednesday were 18-year-olds Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz, just to name a few. To at least a small degree, Zverev erased the demons of his brutal fourth-round loss in Indian Wells to Rafael Nadal by holding off Michael Mmoh 7-6(3), 7-6(4). Also in the midst of a breakout 2016 campaign, Fritz took care of Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-2.

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

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Del Potro Begins Comeback at Delray Beach Open

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Del Potro Begins Comeback at Delray Beach Open


IMG_4201_DelPotro After an extended hiatus due to wrist surgery in 2011, Juan Martin Del Potro rejoined the ATP tour by making his maiden appearance in Delray. He went on to capture the title. However, a niggling wrist injury has prevented Del Potro from returning to the form which resulted in his triumph at the 2009 US Open.

After another round of surgery Del Potro is ready for a second comeback. The Argentine has again chosen Delray as he reincorporates himself on tour and is hoping to duplicate his past success.

Del Potro will be joining a stacked field at the Delray Open that includes Milos Raonic, Kevin Anderson, Bernard Tomic, Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dimitrov. The Delray Beach Open will take place February 12 – 21, 2016.

Here is the official press release from the tournament :

FORMER WORLD NO.4 JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO WILL PLAY IN DELRAY BEACH
The 2009 US Open Champion Will Begin His Comeback From Wrist Injury

DELRAY BEACH: 2011 Delray Beach champion Juan Martin del Potro is taking a wild card into the Delray Beach Open, making his second appearance in the ATP World Tour event. The 10-day event is coming up February 12 – 21, with ATP World Tour play scheduled to begin Monday, February 15 at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center.

Del Potro will be making a long-awaited comeback from a bothersome wrist injury that has dogged the former world No. 4 and 2009 US Open champion for much of his career.

In 2011, del Potro made his initial appearance in Delray Beach ranked No. 166 with just four tournaments under his belt following his first wrist surgery. He won the title without dropping a set, defeating Janko Tipsarevic for his then-8th career ATP World title.

“We’ve been expecting this call,” said Delray Beach Open tournament director Mark Baron. “Juan Martin has always had Delray Beach in his comeback plans, and we’re happy to know that it’s come to fruition. We are rooting for him to be able to overcome his injury and hope he will have a successful comeback.”

The 27-year-old Argentine has amassed 18 career ATP titles plus his Grand Slam US Open win, and has four Top 10 year-end finishes: 2008 (No. 9), 2009 (No 5), 2012 (No. 7) and 2013 (No. 5). He reached his career-high No 4 on January 11, 2010.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said del Potro via a U-Tube video. “As I had promised that I would make a comeback around January or February, now I can confirm it will happen at Delray Beach. I wanted to share the news and also the happiness that I feel knowing that I will play a tennis tournament after such a long time.”

Del Potro’s appearance in Delray Beach’s 32-player singles draw gives the tournament four former champions, including defending champion Ivo Karlovic, Kevin Anderson (2012) and Tommy Haas (2006). Additionally, the Bryan Brothers are defending doubles champions and will be chasing their third consecutive title.

The 2016 Delray Beach field already features three Top 20 players including 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Milos Raonic (No. 11), Anderson (No. 14) and Bernard Tomic (No. 20). Karlovic (No. 24) and Grigor Dimitrov (No. 28) also figure into the strong draw.

In addition to the ATP World Tour tournament, the first weekend of the Delray Beach Open includes an ATP Champions Tour event featuring six former stars playing in a Team USA vs Team International format.

Tickets are available at yellowtennisball.com/tickets or can be secured from the on-site box office (30 NW 1st Avenue in Delray Beach) or over the phone (561-330-6000 ext.1).

UPDATED 2016 DELRAY BEACH OPEN SINGLES ENTRY LIST: Kevin Anderson (RSA), Benjamin Becker (GER), Ricardas Berankis (LTU), Jeremy Chardy (FRA),Thiemo de Bakker (NED), Juan Martin del Potro (ARG), Grigor Dimitrov (BUL), Damir Dzumhur (BIH), Kyle Edmund (GBR), Marcel Granollers (ESP), Sam Groth (AUS), Tommy Haas (GER/USA), Steve Johnson (USA), Ivo Karlovic (CRO), Denis Kudla (USA), Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ), Adrian Mannarino (FRA), Illya Marchenko (UKR), John Millman (AUS), Sam Querrey (USA), Rajeev Ram (USA),Milos Raonic (CAN), Dudi Sela (ISR), Bernard Tomic (AUS), Donald Young (USA)

For more information: Go to YellowTennisBall.com.

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Del Potro Sent Packing by Pospisil in the First Round at the Miami Open

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Del Potro Sent Packing by Pospisil in the First Round at the Miami Open


IMG_0946_Del_PotroArgentine Juan Martin Del Potro choose the Miami Open to make his return to the ATP tour after nursing a wrist problem. However, the 2009 U.S. Open did not get the desired result. Undaunted by the swarm of Argentinian fans buzzing the stadium and cheering for their man, Canadian Vasek Pospisil defeated Del Potro 6-4. 7-6.

After salvaging a break point in his opening service game, Del Potro was gifted 0-40 when Pospisil double faulted. Yet, with superb serving, the Canadian managed to extricate himself from that jam. In the ninth service game, Pospisil again kept his composure down 15-40 and ultimately build a 5-4 lead. Next, it was the Canadian’s turn to be at triple break point and he took full advantage. On his second try he went on to bank the first set.

Del Potro turned things around by obtaining a break to start the second set. The Argentine went on to consolidate for a 2-0 edge. However, Pospisil continued to place pressure on the 2009 Miami Open semifinalist by maintaining the difference at one break. Serving for the set at 5-4, Pospisil blazed a forehand down the line to have his initial opportunity to break back. He converted as Del Potro’s lob sailed long.

Eventually, the second set went to a tiebreaker. Again, Del Potro carved out a 3-1 lead. Later, the Argentine found himself ahead 5-2. In front 6-4 Del Potro double faulted to give his opponent back the mini-break. Down the road, another Del Potro double fault handed Pospisil match point. As the Argentine’s forehand landed long, Pospisil was declared the winner.

Del Potro missed the remainder of 2014 because of his wrist surgery in March. He returned January of this year, reaching the quarterfinals in Sydney. Subsequently, plagued again by the wrist problem, Del Potro was forced to take time off. Following his defeat, Del Potro had this to say “I don’t feel frustrated. . . I have to take the positive things on my comeback. Another official match after one year, it’s a good signal for the future. . .I wanted to win, I had a few chances. . .but I couldn’t close the set because I had easy mistakes. . .I didn’t serve well in the special moments.”

In addressing the wrist, Del Potro cited “it’s not 100%, but I feel even better than Sydney tournament. It’s only two months after the second surgery on my left wrist. I feel better week by week”.

One stroke which has suffered post surgery is Del Potro’s backhand, “I’m not confident 100% to hit my best backhands yet. I need time to improve my backhand again. I’m working hard, it’s the only way to get pass through all the things and get well for the future. Mentally, you must be strong enough to deal with the problem.”

Currently, ranked 616, Del Potro is cognizant that his second comeback to the upper echelon will be fraught with obstacles. “I’m in no hurry to be in the top 10 very soon. . .It doesn’t matter how long it takes. . .it’s most important to be patient and stay calm. I got depressed for a while. . .in the end, I want to play tennis. . If I have to learn a different backhand. . . I will”.

The Argentine was moved by the warm reception from the fans “it’s an amazing tournament. . .the atmosphere is great as always. Argentinian fans, South American people come to watch me play. . .I have a lot of fans in the United States after winning the U.S. Open”. Although Del Potro was not victorious this time around, he is looking forward to his next encounter to bring joy to his fanatics.

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