Tag Archive | "Djokovic"

Djokovic Dominates Nishikori to Win Miami Open for Sixth Time

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Djokovic Dominates Nishikori to Win Miami Open for Sixth Time


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Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator
Novak Djokovic pulled off a three-peat at the Miami Open and won the tournament for the sixth time in his career by defeating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday afternoon. Djokovic got off to a relatively slow start and dropped serve twice in the first set but ended up cruising to the title in one hour and 26 minutes.

Nishikori broke right away at love for a quick 1-0 advantage in the opener only to give it right back. The world No. 1 soon found himself trailing by a break before earning another scalp of the Djokovic serve at 2-4. A somewhat bizarre first set saw Nishikori win eight return points–all of which came in two love service breaks. Djokovic held his other three service games at love.

Set two was more straightforward, with the top-seeded Serb surrendering only four points on serve. Two breaks were more than enough for Djokovic, who coasted to the finish line as Nishikori began struggling with an apparent knee problem.

“I thought he started very well breaking my serve in the first game and coming out with some big forehands and aggressive play,” the champion reflected. “I needed to answer right back, which I did in the following game…which helped me mentally to kind of continue the match in a right way. Because if you’re a break down, 2-0 down, things are a little bit different, obviously–especially against a player like Kei.

“It was best performance of the tournament (today). It came at the right time against a great, quality player.”

“I thought I wasn’t playing too bad,” Nishikori assessed. “But (at the) same time, he played great tennis. So that’s why I couldn’t play what I wanted to play. Also my serve wasn’t going (well) today. So that was [a] shame to have that, because he had a great return. I felt a little pressure on my service game.”

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In triumphing, Djokovic gained sole possession of the all-time lead in Masters 1000 titles with 28. He also surpassed Boris Becker for 11th place on the all-time ATP Open Era victories list with 714. Additionally, Djokovic moved past Roger Federer for No. 1 on the career prize money chart and completed the Indian Wells-Miami double for a record fourth time.

“Every year that I come back to Miami, I do go through those memories from back in 2007…the first Masters I won; (it) opened a lot of doors for me, gave me a lot of self-belief,” Djokovic added. “I started to realize that I’m able to win the big trophies and to beat the best players in the world. So of course this is a particular place for me to come back to, now winning it six times. Obviously I don’t take any win for granted, and especially in the big ones.”

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

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Djokovic Gets Past Goffin, Joined by Nishikori in Miami Open Final

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Djokovic Gets Past Goffin, Joined by Nishikori in Miami Open Final


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Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator
Novak Djokovic booked a spot in his 13th consecutive final at the Masters 1000 and World Tour Finals levels by defeating David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-4 in the Miami Open semis on Friday afternoon. Djokovic improved to 27-1 on the season (his only loss has come via retirement) after two hours and five minutes.

Playing in his second straight Masters 1000 semifinal, having reached the same stage in Indian Wells, Goffin got off to a blistering start. The 15th-ranked Belgian survived a marathon service game at 2-3, after which he promptly broke Djokovic for a surprising 4-3 advantage. But the top-seeded Serb broke right back for 4-4 and never relinquished the momentum.

Djokovic gave back a mini-break at 4-3 in the tiebreaker, but he regained the upper hand with a return point at 5-4 before closing out the ‘breaker at 6-5. A more straightforward second set saw the world No. 1 use a single break at 3-3 to get the job done.

“I was aware of the level that he raised his game in last couple of months,” Djokovic said of his opponent. “And the fact that he played the first semifinals of a Masters 1000 event in his career in Indian Wells gave him–obviously–confidence coming into today’s match. I knew he [was] going to try to take his chances; going to try to be aggressive.

“It was evident that we both struggled with conditions today, especially after a tough start that…I think three games went 15 minutes and then the whole first set lasted for (an) hour and 15 minutes. Physically (it was) a great battle; lots of exchanges from the baseline.”

“With Novak you have a lot of balls to hit, and sometimes you’re feeling better game after game,” Goffin commented. “Yeah, that’s why I was feeling good on my baseline, so maybe that’s why it was a good match and it wasn’t scary [going up] against Novak.”

In the nightcap, Kei Nishikori had no fear against a confident Nick Kyrgios. With a remarkably clean performance, the Japanese star quieted the 20-year-old Australian 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 24 minutes.

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Nishikori gave back a break midway through the second set with a double-fault, but that was the only occasion on which he dropped serve. The world No. 6 made up for it by breaking Kyrgios at 6-5. He capitalized on his second match point with a lunging forehand volley at the end of an entertaining rally.

“It was tough straight from the get-go,” Kyrgios admitted. “I had pretty much one easy service game, and that was the first game. He’s just playing such good tennis. When he plays me, he plays so aggressive; doesn’t let me dictate points.”

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

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Goffin Books Semifinal Spot Against Djokovic at the Miami Open

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Goffin Books Semifinal Spot Against Djokovic at the Miami Open


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Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Open, David Goffin had never been past the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event. There was no reason to think anything different would transpire when Goffin faced match points against Frances Tiafoe in the Indian Wells second round earlier this month. But he saved both match points, ended up winning in a third-set tiebreaker, and the rest is history.

The red-hot Belgian reached the semifinals in the desert, upsetting Stan Wawrinka in the process before succumbing to Milos Raonic. With momentum in hand, Goffin has accomplished the same feat at the Miami Open. Benefiting from Roger Federer’s withdrawal in what became a wide-open section of the bracket, Goffin capitalized on the opportunity to cruise into the last eight with straight-set defeats of Marcel Granollers, Viktor Troicki, and Horacio Zeballos.

With the competition level ratcheted up in the form of Gilles Simon on Wednesday, Goffin came up with all the answers and recovered from a set deficit to prevail 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 57 minutes. The world No. 15 converted five of six break chances in the final two sets after missing all six of his opportunities in the opener.

“The first set it was tough because it was a good set with a good level,” Goffin reflected. “Gilles was really solid on his baseline, but I didn’t serve really well in the first set. I didn’t have any free points with my serve, so it was tough.

“I knew that the level was there and I had to keep going like this, just to stay more focused on some shots just to finish the points…. Then game after game I was feeling much better. The serve was there in the third set. Yeah, I think with the serve it was the key to win the third.”

Goffin will obviously have to do everything well in his semifinal showdown against Novak Djokovic on Friday. Djokovic, who has not lost this season by anything other than retirement (to Feliciano Lopez in Dubai), cruised past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday night.

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The top-seeded Serb got broken only once, just as he did against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday. But this time around it was far more straightforward; Djokovic had to fight off a slew of break points (14 of 15 was the final tally) in the fourth round before facing only three with Berdych on the other side of the net.

“The opening three or four games went over 20 minutes,” Djokovic commented. “We both started with great intensity and concentration. I think we made each other play a lot…. I just managed to keep my composure and play the right shots at the right time.”

On the other side of the draw, Milos Raonic will battle Nick Kyrgios on Thursday while Kei Nishikori squares off against Gael Monfils.

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

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Djokovic Escapes Thiem to Advance to Miami Open Quarterfinals

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Djokovic Escapes Thiem to Advance to Miami Open Quarterfinals


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Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

The record will indicate that Novak Djokovic made routine work of Dominic Thiem during fourth-round action at the Miami Open on Wednesday afternoon. A more accurate picture, however, is painted by both the statistics and the eye test. Anyone who was in attendance surely appreciated the entertaining affair to which they were treated, even though Djokovic got the job done in seemingly dominant 6-3, 6-4 fashion.

A much different story could have unfolded if Thiem had been able to come up with the goods at the critical junctures. Instead, the 22-year-old Austrian squandered 14 of 15 break points and the only one he converted came courtesy of a Djokovic double-fault.

In the opening set, Thiem survived a three-deuce game and saved one set point to hold for 3-5. He then had four break points to get back on serve, but Djokovic battled trough a four-deuce game to seal the deal. With the top-seeded Serb serving for the match at 5-4 in the second, he fought off four more break points, navigated seven deuces, and finally converted a fourth match point to triumph after one hour and 49 minutes.

“It [was] going to end sooner or later,” Djokovic commented. “Generally I don’t face that many break points, but conversion of break points from my opponent today was only one out of [15], so that’s a positive in a way. But I’ll try not to get myself in those positions too much…. It was a straight-set win, but far from easy. It was a tough match.”

“Today (there) were positive and negative things,” Thiem posted on Facebook. “I can take advantage of (them) in the future…. I couldn’t take advantage of my [break points]; I only converted one out of 15; that’s [not enough], especially when your opponent is the No. 1 in the world.

“Nevertheless, I am happy about my performance here in Miami; I was able to gain some new experience and now I am heading, of course a little bit disappointed, back home. Next up, clay-court season!”

The hard-court proceedings will continue at least one more one more round for Djokovic, and for Gael Monfils. Joining Djokovic in the quarterfinals by also prevailing on Tuesday were Monfils, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios, Tomas Berdych, Gilles Simon, and David Goffin. Monfils recovered from a set deficit to outlast Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in a day-session match that went well into the night.

After going down an immediate break in the third set, the Frenchman broke right back and earned another scalp of the Dimitrov serve at 4-3 before closing the door at love in emphatic fashion. By lasting exactly two and a half hours, it forced the Kei Nishikori vs. Roberto Bautista Agut showdown to be moved from the stadium to the Grandstand.

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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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open

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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open


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Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

First it was Roger Federer. Then it was Rafael Nadal. And the hits have kept coming at the Miami Open.

Federer withdrew from the tournament due to illness, while Nadal could not get through his first match because of issues related to the heat. David Ferrer followed his fellow Spaniard out of South Beach by losing to Lucas Pouille on Sunday night. On the women’s side, Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska both lost on Monday afternoon. The carnage continued when Andy Murray succumbed to Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-3 during third-round action.

Dimitrov trailed 3-1 in the final set but reeled off five straight games to wrap up the victory in impressive style after two hours and 25 minutes. It was a much-needed result–and one of his best ever–for the Bulgarian, who currently registers 20 spots off his career-high ranking at 28th in the world. He had not defeated a top-10 opponent since upsetting then-No. 9 Stan Wawrinka at the Monte-Carlo Masters last spring. This is Dimitrov’s second-even win at the expense of a top-2 opponent, having previously stunned world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on the clay courts of Madrid in 2013.

“I’m happy,” Dimitrov assured. “Of course I’m happy with that victory. Every time you beat a top player you know you must have done something good.

“I played quite a few times against [Murray]. I think we know our games pretty well. I just played better in the good moments today. That’s it. I think I was just a smart player throughout the course of the whole match. Even though I lost the first set, I kept a good composure…. I think when I was 3-1 down in the third set, I really felt that I know I’m going to get another chance because I was returning well, playing very good in the key moments.”

Murray played a near-flawless first-set tiebreaker, but he struggled in the pressure-packed moments throughout the duration of the proceedings. After trailing 4-0 in the second set, he had a break point to get back on level terms at 5-5 but could not convert. The Scot also dropped his last three service games of the match without even getting to deuce a single time.

“(I made) a lot of unforced errors in the third set for sure,” Murray lamented. “Obviously (I) didn’t start the second set particularly well. After winning a close first set you obviously want to try and put your opponent under pressure. Credit to him. He was more solid than me…. Physically it was okay. I mean, the conditions were actually not that bad today. It was just humid. Obviously the cloud cover helped. It was just very, very humid. Physically I was okay.”

Dimitrov will have to be ready for another physical battle against Gael Monfils on Tuesday. Monfils has enjoyed a much more routine trek through the Miami draw, having disposed of Tatsuma Ito and Pablo Cuevas in easy straight sets. Dimitrov, on the other hand, preceded his triumph over Murray by outlasting Federico Delbonis 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 39 minutes.

Joining Dimitrov and Monfils in the last 16 were Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Andrey Kuznetsov.

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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Order Restored at the Miami Open as Djokovic Cruises

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Order Restored at the Miami Open as Djokovic Cruises


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Miami, Ricky Dimon
Order was restored to the Miami Open on Sunday, when scorching conditions relinquished at least a small part of their grip on Crandon Park Tennis center. Three retirements in the men’s singles draw had taken place amidst brutal heat on Saturday, which was not what the tournament needed 24 hours after Roger Federer withdrew due to illness. But no early stoppages plagued the field on Sunday as third-round action got underway.

Novak Djokovic’s only real trouble came in the form of a nasty fall during his first set against Joao Sousa. The world No. 1 also dropped serve twice in the opener, but he eventually picked up the pace and cruised to a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

“I slipped few times,” Djokovic commented. “Conditions here are quite different from Indian Wells. It’s pretty humid. Players are sweating a lot, so you have some obviously spots, especially behind the baseline, where it’s a little bit too wet…. That first set went down to a few points; (a) couple (of) long games when I lost my serve and then I broke him back. After that it was quite a good performance.”

It was a positively dominant one in set two. Djokovic surrendered a mere three points in three service games while breaking Sousa on three occasions. Sousa won just 10 points in the entire set before bowing out after one hour and 17 minutes.

“(The) second set felt much more comfortable,” the top-seeded Serb assured. “(I was) serving very well the entire day. It’s not easy. Obviously everybody talks about conditions being different, but it’s something that you have to accept. It’s same for your opponent and you. I’m glad that I managed to finish the match the way (I did).”

Four of the eight men’s matches on Sunday took long, circuitous routes to finish. A quartet of contests went the three-set distance and each of those four lasted more than two and half hours.

Tomas Berdych and Steve Johnson began the day on stadium court and the Czech needed two hours and 43 minutes to hold off the American 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3. On the Grandstand, lucky loser Horacio Zeballos saved one match point before upsetting Fernando Verdasco 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) in two hours and 34 minutes. Following a Richard Gasquet rout of Benoit Paire in between, Gilles Simon outlasted Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in two hours and 46 minutes. It was the sixth time in as many head-to-head meetings that Simon and Cilic went to a final set.

Arguably the best was saved for last, as the nightcap in the stadium saw David Ferrer and Lucas Pouille battle to just a few minutes shy of 12:00 a.m. After two hours and 45 minutes of a roller-coaster affair, Pouille pulled off a 6-7(1), 7-6(5), 7-5 upset. The Frenchman held serve at 6-5 in the third from 15-40 down to clinch the biggest win of his career.

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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Nadal Headlines Day Session at the Miami Open on Saturday

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Nadal Headlines Day Session at the Miami Open on Saturday


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Rafael Nadal’s opening singles match at the Miami Open is scheduled for Saturday. Prior to meeting his second round opponent, Damir Dzumhur, the four time finalist sat down with the media to opine on a variety of topics including the state of his game in comparison to a year ago, the pluses and minuses of having one dominant player on tour in reference to Novak Djokovic and reaching soon the age of 30. Here is an excerpt of the what the world number five had to say.

Thus far, Nadal’s career has been one for the record books, including 67 titles, 14 major and an Olympic gold medal. Yet, the desire for to add to his tally is ever present ” I am happy doing what I am doing. I enjoy playing my sport. It’s about love for the game, about passion for what I am doing, and I am going to be here until I am unhappy doing what I am doing.”

Despite being denied Miami’s grand prize several times, Nadal enjoys coming back season after season to compete. “I played well in my career here, Four finals; another semifinals; some more quarterfinals. So a positive tournament for me. the atmosphere here is great. I enjoy being here. The fans here are amazing with me”.

Rumors abound that the tournament may change venue. It’s certainly preoccupying to the Spaniard” I think it’s obvious that Miami is an amazing city and is unbelievable for us to be here in Miami, to play here in Miami. . . for the Latin people, Spanish people, we feel close because very big community of Latinos here. So in my opinion, will be not good if the tournament moves from here. At the same time, it’s obvious that something needs to happen. . . all the tournaments are improving . . .making improvements on facilities and everything, and is true that this tournament didn’t make that happen for a while. . . [With] Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back, you see all the things that Indian Wells is improving day by day. Miami it’s obvious that probably for the situation it’s difficult to make something bigger because you are just almost in the middle of the city. So probably of the comparison is not helping this tournament. But still, an amazing event. For sure I love being here. I love this tournament. I would like to keep watching this tournament here.”

With regards to his uncle and coach Toni expressing his concerns that tennis “will become a game of speed and power and not so much skill and tactics”. Nadal cited “the sport in general needs to improve in all aspects, and it’s obvious that the players today are taller than before. The racquet hits the ball harder than four years before. [At] the same time, it is true that nothing changed in our sport in terms of rules. So for the moment, it is obvious that the tennis has had tremendous successful for I think a long time now. The sport is healthy, but at the same time we need to move to predict the future. I’m not talking for my generation, but for the next generation. People, in my opinion, like the drama, the rallies. I don’t remember amazing matches that were only one serve and one shot. The matches that the people remember most, are slow matches with unbelievable points, and the applause of the people or the emotions of the people are not only with one serve and one shot. People get emotional when the points are intense, long. If every time we make that happen less often, it’s obvious that our sport can be in trouble for the future”.

Djokovic has been gobbling every trophy in sight. Nadal was asked whether that’s healthy for the sport or are rivalries better:

“Unfortunately, it’s obvious that now it is better for Novak. I don’t know. Depend for who. I think the real thing is rivalries are good. In my opinion, it is not good if a different player wins a tournament every week. Because if there is 20 players winning tournaments different weeks, the people arrive to the tournament and nobody knows who are the favorites to win. It’s difficult because people need to support one player. So you need the stars. To create the stars you need players who have been there for a long time and players competing for the most important events very often. At the same time, it’s good to have combination of styles; it’s good to have different players who fight for the important things, and one or another can win. So I think happened the last 10, 12 years, and now for last year and a half, two years one is dominating maybe too much. But he deserves.”

Nadal feels much more positive about his form on court n 2016 as opposed to last year where his belief was lacking “The difference is I’m enjoying on court. I’m not feeling that nerves on court. I’m not feeling that strange feeling that I never felt. I am enjoying on the practices, I am enjoying on the tennis court. I feel with the right energy. I can lose, I can win, but I am happy on court. That’s the most important thing.”

In order to get a shot at hoisting his maiden Miami Open trophy, Nadal may need to go through Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals and Andy Murray in the semifinals.

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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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Djokovic Withstands Murray for A Fifth Miami Open Trophy

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Djokovic Withstands Murray for A Fifth Miami Open Trophy


IMG_8889_DjokovicThe 30th edition of the men’s final at the Miami Open was contested between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Yet again, Djokovic outlasted Murray 7-6, 4-6, 6-0 to bank his fifth title in South Florida.

In January at the Australian Open final, Djokovic manhandled his counterpart 6-0 in the fourth set to claim the trophy. The second Masters 1000 of the year was a chance for Murray to apply the brakes on a seven match skid against Djokovic against, he had an 8-17 record. Moreover, since his triumph in the 2013 Wimbledon final, Murray is 0-11 versus the combination of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

With a forehand crosscourt winner, Murray manufactured a break point in the opening game. Although Djokovic held, for the Brit, this was a positive development. The next time Murray had break point, he struck an overhead winner for a 2-1 lead.

But, Murray’s advantage was short-lived. The Brit failed to consolidate ahead 40-30. As Djokovic misfired on three backhands in the seventh game, Murray broke at love for 4-3. Swiftly, it was Djokovic’s turn at triple break point and he leveled the set. With no further break points on offer, the opening set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Murray‘s caution at this juncture resulted in miscues. Courtesy of that generosity, Djokovic stormed to a 4-0 edge and ultimately with ease secured the first set.

In the third game of the second set, Djokovic had opportunities to tighten the rope around Murray’s neck with four break points. However, by serving well, the Brit recovered and kept the score in his favor for 2-1.

With the score 4 all and 40-30, Murray was given a time violation warning. This could have derailed him. Yet, the two time Miami Open champion overcame that distraction to hold for 5-4.

Soon, Murray blazed a forehand crosscourt winner off an overhead from Djokovic for 0-40. Then, with the Brit crushing a second serve backhand return crosscourt for a winner, a decisive set was needed to determine the victor.

The bipartisan crowd could hardly contain its glee as cries of “come on Nole or come on Murray” reverberated throughout the stadium. The public was salivating at the prospect of these two warriors dueling to the death.

The last couple of years, Djokovic has mastered the art of wrestling momentum away from his rivals. Once again, Murray learned there was no mercy for miscues.

In an opening game where Murray had game point, Djokovic capitalized on his opponent‘s sleuth of errors to come away with the break. After the Serb consolidated for 2-0, Murray double faulted to stare at 0-40. Despite getting to deuce, Murray could not overcome three more break points. Hard to phantom, but in a 48 minute set, Murray failed to post a single game.

Although the forecast was 75 and partly cloudy, it felt closer to 90 on the court. According to Murray, “I struggled physically, I played well for a couple of sets. I wasn’t getting in the right positions to hit the ball in the last set”.

Djokovic agreed “brutal conditions for both of us. First set was really up and down. We tried to stay mentally tough, hang in there, battle and wear down the other player physically. There were lots of long rallies. I was expecting that coming into the match. It wasn’t really great tennis, a lot of unforced errors. But in these conditions you just want to extend the punching exchange and wait for the opportunities.”

Despite residing and training part of the year in South Florida , Murray could not find his legs to make that last push “here more than most places, it’s draining because of the humidity. . .Part of being a professional athlete is dealing with those different conditions and making adjustments.”

Murray doesn’t attribute his flaming out to his past medical issues “I’ve trained as hard as I can. Maybe I could have hydrated a little bit better. He was stronger than me at the end.”

At one end of the court, in the opening set, the sun was a factor which perhaps killed Murray‘s chances “I would say until the end of the first set, it wasn’t an advantage serving… It’s one thing hitting the first serve significantly slower, but looking at bright light, the first shot of the rally when it comes back, your site is a bit off.”

Despite the outcome, Murray believes there are encouraging lessons to take away compared to Indian Wells “I made the match harder for him, I did many things better. I was going for my shots a bit more. I played a good match tactically.”

Djokovic has dominated his rival of late. Still, he expressed “I’m aware of his qualities and the tennis he can play, the shots, the talent he possesses. He’s also a multiple Grand Slam winner and knows how to perform on the big stage. He deserves respect and to be in the finals of big events. We play similar styles of game so we push each other. It’s like playing cat and mouse trying to outplay and outsmart him in certain types of point.”

Consequently, Djokovic is a tough puzzle for Murray to crack because he is an enhanced prototype. As Murray put it “he serves well, he moves exceptionally well. He’s in great shape and he hits the ball well off both sides. That’s why he’s the number one player in the world. In a couple of matches we’ve played this year, I felt like I’ve been able to hang with him, but not quite for long enough unfortunately.”

As far as his recent successes, the world number one expressed “I could not ask for a better start to the season winning three big titles. I’m probably playing the tennis of my life, feeling confident and physically fit. Hopefully, I’m able to use this for the clay court coming up. I’m aware that this cannot go on forever. I’m going to try to stay as long as I can on top and fight for the biggest titles”

At 27, both players have had triumphant careers. But, with his win at the Australian Open, Djokovic became the first player since 1968 to collect five prizes Down Under. Today, with his 22nd masters shield, he accomplished for a third time the Indian Wells-Miami Open double, something that had never been done. Moreover, Djokovic is one Masters 1000 title away from tying Federer in the number two spot.

On the historical perspective, Djokovic commented “it’s nice and flattering to hear that I have achieved another record. Any achievement that goes into the history books I’m hugely proud of and appreciate because I work hard for it and I do cherish it. It allows me to motivate myself even more.” Next year, at the Miami Open, the bar for Djokovic will be equalizing Andre Agassi’s record with a sixth title.

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