Tag Archive | "Miami Masters"

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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Kyrgios Joins Nishikori in the Miami Open Semifinals

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Kyrgios Joins Nishikori in the Miami Open Semifinals


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Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Kei Nishikori saved five match points before outlasting Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) in a semifinal thriller at the Miami Open on Thursday afternoon. Nishikori withstood 14 aces by his opponent and overcame six double-faults off his own racket to prevail after two hours and 29 minutes.

The high-quality roller-coaster ride saw Monfils recover from a break deficit in the deciding set. With momentum in hand, the world No. 16 put himself within one point of victory on five different occasions. He came close to converting his fourth chance when he tracked down a drop-shot and flicked it cross-court, but Nishikori answered with a winning volley.

“I felt good,” Monfils said when asked about the physical struggle of the third set. “I think I had to raise a bit my level to [hold] my serve at 1-3. Then I think at 3-4 I really raised my level. I think I [started] to be very aggressive, [started] to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it. At the end, I think I pushed very hard. Then definitely I [had] opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well. I think in the ‘breaker he was just better than me.”

It almost, of course, never got to a tiebreaker. Of Monfils’ five match points, four came with Nishikori serving at 4-5 and the last one at 5-6.

“Well, the first one [was] a good serve,” the Frenchman reflected. “Then the second one I [stepped] in, second serve. I [went] aggressive wide and I [missed] maybe (by) 30 or 40 centimeters. Then the third one; second serve. I didn’t go for it so much. I [went] in between, and then he had a very good forehand behind me. Then I think the last one is the one I thought I had…the drop-shot. I think actually this one was the closest one I had.”

“The match could [have gone] both ways,” Nishikori assured. “I was up a break and I had many [chances] to break again. I just [trired] to focus when I lost the game for 4-all. The tiebreak I was [trying] to be [focused] again. Yeah, did pretty good in (the) tiebreak.”

Next up for the world No. 6 is a second career meeting with Kyrgios, whom Nishikori defeated 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 last fall in Shanghai. It will be another contrast in temperaments for Kyrgios after he faced the mentally solid Milos Raonic on Thursday night.

Although the 20-year-old Australian is nothing short of combustible, himself, his trek through the Miami draw has mostly no-nonsense aside from a brief spat with the chair umpire during a fourth-round win over Andrey Kuznetsov. He has also refused to surrender a single set in four victories.

Kyrgios booked a spot in his first-ever Masters 1000 semifinal by upsetting Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 44 minutes. The 24th seed fired eight aces and saved all five of the break points he faced.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Kyrgios commented. “Milos has played great the last couple of weeks; the only person he’s lost to is (Novak) Djokovic. I played really well out here. The crowd was a lot of fun; the atmosphere was really good. I thought the level of tennis was pretty good, as well.”

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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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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Serena Williams Wards Off Diyas for a Spot into the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

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Serena Williams Wards Off Diyas for a Spot into the Fourth Round at the Miami Open


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After a brutal three set tussle with fellow American Christina McHale two days ago, Serena Williams was probably looking forward to a routine third round match at the Miami Open against Zarina Diyas ranked 97th. Yet, this encounter was anything, but. The world number had to claw her way to a 7-5, 6-3 victory.

On the heels of Rafael Nadal retiring because of the insufferable heat to Damir Dzumhur world number 94th from Bosnia, the air seemed to have been sucked out of the stadium. However, when Williams broke to open the proceedings, there was a sense that perhaps order would be restored swiftly. Yet, her 22 year old opponent from Kazakhstan would not be docile. A few fist pumps followed a comeback from 15-40 to deuce. Soon after, Diyas leveled the set at 1 game a piece. There was no apparent hangover from their only prior meeting at Indian Wells in 2015, when Williams dismantled her 6-2, 6-0.

As a reminder though, Williams quickly broke at love the third game and consolidated for a 3-1 advantage. Still the young Kazakh refused to fold. After holding serve at love for 4-5, Diyas manufactured a break point by forcing three successive miscues from Williams. By pushing her counterpart into a backhand mistake, Diyas equalized the set at 5 all. Ultimately, Williams shifted gears to regain the control promptly and on her second try closed out the the set.

On a roll with six straight games, it seemed that the eight time Miami Open champion would cruise to victory. Once more, Diyas was not through. As Williams serve deserted her and the errors piled on, Diyas secured three successive games to reduce the deficit to a sole break 3-4.

The eighth game Williams stood fast to guard serve for 5-3. Later, with Diyas dumping a forehand into the net, the American was at double match point. As Diyas’ backhand misfired, relief was evident on Williams’ part as she punched her ticket into the round of 16.

Today’s triumph represents Williams’ 750th career match win. Despite, consecutive finals losses, the Australian Open and Indian Wells, something that Williams has not experienced in over a decade. She will surely surpass Lindsay Davenport’s 753 mark which is seventh best all time.

Williams acknowledged that today she had to problem solve along the way “She’s been on tour a few years. I’ve played her before and I know her game really well . . . I think she played above her level the whole match, and I think that’s actually a good sign for her, to know that she can play like that. . . I had to really raise my level to win today. I think she is doing everything better. More than anything, she had a lot of confidence this time. Obviously she has nothing to lose.”

By the time Williams got on court, the weather conditions had improved compared to the preceding match ” It was definitely humid today. Rafa played like an hour and a half, two hours before me, so that makes a huge difference. . he was in the most intense part of the sun; whereas I was kind of at tail end of it. . . For me the biggest adjustment I had to make is I usually never use a towel. Here I might have to go grab the towel in between points. . . But, I have been living here for over 20 years. I love these conditions actually.”

Up next for Williams is Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian edged out Caroline Garcia in a third set tiebreaker. Although the world number one has a 8-2 record over Kuznetsova, their riveting showdown at the French Open in 2013, it should be another thrilling contest. “It’s a great match-up. She plays well and makes a lot of the great shots. She’s actually been playing well this year. She had a couple big wins and couple good tournaments. I have my work cut out for me. We’ll see what happens.”

Off the court, the two are amicable. Williams cited ” we get along great. That’s no secret. She’s just someone that you respect and you like… Just something about her that I think everyone likes.”

Nothing like being at home, Williams has been dominant at this venue with a 74 wins and 7 losses. Moreover, Williams has not been ousted prior to the round of 16 since 2000 when she tasted defeat at the hand of Jennifer Capriati. Consequently, Monday’s match will be quite compelling as the top ranked player looks to reboot her 2016 season by continuing her quest for a ninth Miami Open title.

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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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