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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Murray, Federer in cruise control at Sony Open

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Murray, Federer in cruise control at Sony Open


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Miami Ricky Dimon
With former coach Ivan Lendl sitting in his player box, Andy Murray showed signs of the Murray who won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon under Lendl. Murray crushed Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-1 in the third round of the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Sunday afternoon.

The defending champion, who is coming off back surgery and recently lost in the Indian Wells fourth round, has been dominant since dropping his first set of this Miami event to Matthew Ebden. Murray has now yielded a mere six games in his last four sets. He converted five of six break-point opportunities against Lopez, who served at a horrendous 43 percent.

“I moved well [and] returned well,” said Murray. “It’s not always that easy to feel comfortable against him because there is not [a lot] of rhythm with the way he plays.”

The No. 6 seed is joined in the last 16 by Roger Federer, who stormed past Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-3 in just one hour and three minutes. Federer surrendered only seven service points in the entire match. He lost just three points on serve against Ivo Karlovic in the second round.

Sunday’s opening match on the Grandstand featured a far more competitive affair. Neither man was at his best, but the result was an entertaining, back-and-forth battle between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis. Tsonga prevailed 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 in two hours and 30 minutes.

To say the Frenchman took a circuitous route to victory would be an understatement. He trailed by a set and by 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker. Baghdatis was two points from the match on six different occasions but could not cross the finish line. Tsonga won five straight points for 6-5, double-faulted on set point, but then won it on a Baghdatis double-fault at 6-7.

Tsonga saved all five of the break points he faced in set three before breaking serve for the very first time in Baghdats’ final service game at 5-5. It finally ended in the 12th game of the decider on Tsonga’s 16th ace.

Murray and Tsonga will face each other in the fourth round, while Federer is going up against Richard Gasquet.

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Federer, Djokovic, Murray off to winning start at Sony Open

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Federer, Djokovic, Murray off to winning start at Sony Open



IMG_6389_FedererMiami, FL Ricky Dimon
After skipping last year’s Sony Open Tennis tournament, Roger Federer kicked off his 2014 campaign on Friday afternoon with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Ivo Karlovic. Federer lost a mere three points on serve in the entire match and he fired six aces to Karlovic’s 13 to advance in one hour and 14 minutes.

The 32-year-old Swiss dropped just one service point in the first set and one in the second prior to a tiebreaker. An error off the net cord, however, gave back a mini-break to Karlovic in surprising fashion. One more mini-break was all Federer would need, as he took care of his final two service points at 5-4 and 6-4.

“I think I was able to play a very clean match on my service games throughout,” the world No. 5 explained. “I was playing with margin, was able to move Ivo around, and I was able to maintain that throughout the match, which was key.”

Next up for Federer is qualifier Thiemo De Bakker, who upset Fernando Verdasco 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-2.

Novak Djokovic joined Federer in the third round following a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Jeremy Chardy. The Frenchman’s hopes were doomed by 51 percent serving and a failure to save any of the three break points he faced. Chardy also suffered a sprained ankle in the final game of the match when Djokovic served out his win at 5-3 in the second set.

“It’s obviously different conditions that I’m playing here in Miami from Indian Wells,” said the No. 2 seed, who is coming off a title at the BNP Paribas Open. “It’s more humid and it takes a little bit of time to get used to. So that’s why the first matches are always tricky. And especially when you have an opponent who goes for his shots as Jeremy did today.”

Andy Murray capped off the night on Stadium court by waking up from a slow start to storm past Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. Murray, who recently made a news-worthy split from coach Ivan Lendl, won all six of his return games spanning the second and third sets. The sixth-ranked Scot dropped serve to trail 1-0 in the third before reeling of a second streak of six consecutive games in his favor.

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

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Novak Djokovic Address the Press at the Sony Open

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Novak Djokovic Address the Press at the Sony Open


Three time Sony Open Tennis champion Novak Djokovic met with the press in Miami prior to his first round match on Friday.  Djokovic revealed that his coach Boris Becker will not be in Miami as he is undergoing surgery on both of his hips.

Djokovic responded to questions regarding the resurgence of Roger Federer, Andy Murray splitting with Ivan Lendl and the future of Juan Martin Del Potro.

Here is the complete interview :

Q.  Can you tell us a little bit about Boris.  We hear that he’s been unable to travel. 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, he’s unable to travel.  He has surgery of his both hips today and tomorrow, so that’s unfortunate.  He couldn’t come.

Q.  But was that expected? 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No, he was supposed to come here.  Basically in the finals of Indian Wells he called us and said that he had an emergency and he has to operate both hips.

Q.  How will this affect or will it affect you and Boris going forward?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  No, no, he’s going to be in MonteCarlo, and the schedule for the tournaments that he committed before the start of the season, he will be there, you know, unless his health doesn’t allow him.

Of course, in these particular situations you can’t do much about it.  If he has to operate his hips, he cannot move, cannot walk, unfortunately.  It’s been something that it’s kind of an issue that has been  issue he’s been carrying for many years already.

If he is able, he’s going to be in MonteCarlo already.  Everything stays the same.

Q.  People will look at what you did in Indian Wells and say, Well, you didn’t miss Boris much, but I guess what he has done in the buildup contributed to that success. 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, absolutely.  Well, first of all, I mean, Boris is a head coach, and this was not only my own decision.  It was actually Marian’s proposal from the start, because as I was saying before, he has been on the tour as a player and coach 30 years.  It’s been a very long time for him.

He wanted to spend more time with his family, and it was time for me to kind of try to get somebody that is able to commit for more tournaments than Marian.

So when Marian was still around, as you see, it was planned for him to be in Indian Wells; now he’s in Miami because of this situation.  But they split tournaments.  I mean, Boris is supposed to travel to more tournaments.

They have a very good communication and relationship, and I’m happy with the way it all has started.  Obviously the start of the season I haven’t won Australian Open as it was the case in last, previous three years, but, you know, it’s a sport.

I feel that I’m playing good on the court.  It’s just a matter of time when things are going to click.  I’m glad that I already  they already have clicked in Indian Wells.  I have had a great two weeks, and the benefits and the effects of our incorporation, Boris and mine, hopefully we will see in the rest of the season.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Roger’s resurgence.  You just played him, and some people had already just not counted him out or were starting to write him off the Big 4 and all that.  Can you talk about him and just having played him.  What do you see in his game different, and that he’s sort of back?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes.  Well, I think he’s playing in a high level this year.  He’s back to his normal level, you know, the level that he had for seven, eight years while he was so dominant in men’s tennis.  Obviously last season he was not as good for his standards.

You know, but this year he started strong.  He won the title in Dubai and played semis of Australian Open.  I can feel that he’s striking the ball very cleanly.  He’s very confident on the court and he has improved his backhand I think.

Maybe it’s the racquet or something else, but he definitely has more depth on that shot.  He’s going more for his topspins rather than slicing it.  You know, of course, with his immense experience and success that he had in his career, he’s never to be ruled out.

Doesn’t matter how old he is.  It’s just a number.  As he was saying, he feels good on the court.  He’s fit.  He’s definitely one of the best players in the world now.

Q.  Were you as surprised as we were about Andy Murray’s split with Ivan Lendl?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, to be honest, I was not surprised.  But, again, I didn’t know what to expect.  They worked for two years, and obviously it brought both of them, especially Andy, a lot of success on the court.  He won Olympic Games, won a few Grand Slams.  I think it was a very good decision from inside to be working with Ivan.

Now they split.  I mean, they obviously had a good reason for that.  I’m not the one who should judge.

Q.  Do you think their success was one of the reasons why there are suddenly so many names… 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Maybe.  But I was saying that that was not the motivation behind me hiring Boris Becker.  As I said before, it was a kind of a course in our relationship between Marian and myself where, you know, we came to the point where we had to think of an alternative option.  We had to think about somebody stepping into our team.

That was the main reason why we hired Boris.

Q.  How important is playing with this environment in Miami?  Different for all of you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It is different tournament.  It’s actually one of the nicest ones we have on tour.  It’s a lot of fun, a lot of entertainment, very international crowd.

I have had much success in this city before I won my first big title back in 2007.  I remember here was my first Masters 1000 event.  So I have really good memories.

I always look forward coming back to Miami this time of the year.  It’s nice weather.  As I said, a lot of fun on and off the court.

Q.  Now that a couple of days has passed since Indian Wells, how much of a boost is that for you confidencewise and a bit of a relief?  I know winning titles is nothing new to you, but an estrangement at the start of this year.  How much of a confidence boost is that for you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, it is, in some kind, a relief for me, because I haven’t had a title this year up to Indian Wells.  Indian Wells final was the first final of the year.  I haven’t played many tournaments; I haven’t played many matches.

So I knew I’m playing well.  I had incredible end of 2013, so I did have confidence.  But I started a little bit doubting myself on the court.  You know, I was struggling a little bit with my, I would say, consistency and the concentration.  Throughout the tournament also I had ups and downs, but I managed to win four out of six matches in three sets.

Mentally it’s a very encouraging win that gives me confidence and that also, you know, is very special in a way.  This time of the year I needed it very much, and hopefully I can carry that into this week.

Q.  Juan Martin Del Potro, have you talked to him, about his future?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I talked to him a little bit a few days ago.  He was uncertain if he’s going to play or not.  Now he’s not playing, so, yeah, it’s really unfortunate.

I think it’s the other wrist, because he had problems with one wrist and now it’s the other one.  He’s a very tall, tall guy, and for him playing many tournaments in a high level week in and week out is very difficult.

His body is suffering, and it’s unfortunate that somebody of his quality is not performing here.  Also Indian Wells.  Tennis definitely misses him.  He’s always one of the contenders to win big titles.  He’s very entertaining to watch.  He’s a nice guy.

I wish him all the best and quick recovery.

Q.  We’re doing a story on fashion in tennis, and we have seen it transcend, you know, Agassi with the denim shorts.  You had the Darth Vader look.  A, what is your inspiration when you go into designing your own clothes?  And, B, how important is it for all of you guys to differentiate you guys with your style?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yes, well, you mentioned Andre Agassi.  I mean, he definitely revolutionalized the fashion in tennis.  He was the first one to dress differently and to have some kind of statement on the court.

Well, I have been through a process in my career, as well.  I had different dragons and wings on my shirts (smiling).

But I’m at a different stage right now.  Of course I’m very much involved in giving  trying to give my input as much as I can to design my own clothes.  I’m fortunate to have a really good team of people and designers from Uniqlo Company who represents me the last two years.

There is various, I will say, inspirations behind the certain designs for different periods of the year depending on color of the surface, depending on the time of the year, depending where we go, color of Serbian flags, so forth and so forth.

So there are different sources of inspiration we are trying to put into the design and kind of create something that looks nice on the court.

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Murray Finally Snares Elusive Wimbledon Trophy

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Murray Finally Snares Elusive Wimbledon Trophy


Image ©CameraSport

Image ©CameraSport

For over seven decades, since 1936 to be precise, Great Britain has been restless for a homegrown male victor at the All-England Club. Today, it got to uncork that seventy-seven year old bottle of bubbly as Andy Murray held off Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to claim his initial Wimbledon title and his second career major.

Last season after the disappointment of losing in the Wimbledon final, Murray bested Djokovic in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the next round to earn Olympic Gold in London a few months later. That feat along with having a major under his belt, the 2012 U.S. Open, were undoubtedly confidence boosters as Murray sauntered on the court to compete.

With Rafael Nadal and Federer knocked out in the first and second round respectively, Murray was expected to walk into the final. However, in the quarterfinals, the Brit had to overcome a 2 sets to none deficit against Fernando Verdasco. Also, in the semifinals, Murray surrendered the first set before ultimately taking control against newcomer Jerzy Janowicz.

Subsequent to beating all comers in straight sets, Djokovic needed five against an injured Juan Martin Del Potro who kept coming back from the brink in the longest semifinal in the tournament’s existence 4 hours and 43 minutes.

When Djokovic and Murray collided in the 2013 Australian Open final, Murray never broke despite a myriad of chances. So, when triple break point for Murray came and went in the opening game, the nail biting began for the spectators.

Later, with a forehand up the line volley winner, Murray had his seventh break point of the initial set. He converted with a backhand down the line winner. However, the public’s joy was ephemeral. Because of a slew of miscues, Murray dropped the next game at love and the set was leveled at 2 all.

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Murray Endures Gritty Ferrer to Bag his Second Sony Open Trophy

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Murray Endures Gritty Ferrer to Bag his Second Sony Open Trophy


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Britain’s Andy Murray had more at stake today than the Miami title. Hoisting the Sony Open trophy would signify the number two world ranking. The reigning U.S. Open defeated Spaniard David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 to obtain his second Sony Open prize.

Ferrer, who was making his maiden appearance in the final in Miami, his fifth at the ATP Masters 1000 level, knew from the outset it would be an uphill battle. Ferrer’s first ATP Masters 1000 title came in November after being denied three times prior.

Although Murray had a slight 6-5 lead in their head to head, the Spaniard has just one win on hardcourt. The others have been on clay. In 2011, these two collided at the Masters tournament in Shanghai, Murray triumphed in two sets.

Moreover, history was not on Ferrer’s side. Three compatriots, including Rafael Nadal three times, have gone down in the final at the Miami Masters. Also, Ferrer has an abysmal mark against top five players, 0-12.

Nevertheless, this was far from the Spaniard’s mind as he salvaged two break points in his opening service game, then went on a five game run to lead 5-0 in the first set.

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Murray Knocks Out Gasquet to Earn a Spot in the Final at the Sony Open

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Murray Knocks Out Gasquet to Earn a Spot in the Final at the Sony Open


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On Sunday, in the Sony Open final, Andy Murray will take on David Ferrer. Murray beat Richard Gasquet 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to his third final in Miami.

Gasquet befuddled the 2009 champion early on, getting the break with a beautiful back down the line winner. The Frenchman went on to consolidate and move ahead 3-0.

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Ferrer Fends Off Haas to Get into Maiden Sony Open Final

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Ferrer Fends Off Haas to Get into Maiden Sony Open Final


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The first men’s semifinal at the Sony Open showcased a pair of thirtysomething. World number five David Ferrer outlasted a resurgent Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach his fifth Masters 1000 series final.

At 35, Haas, a former world number two, discovered his fountain of youth. Ranked 18th, the German ousted 24 year old Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round then stunned world number one Novak Djokovic in the round of 16. This year’s semifinal showing was the furthest Haas’ had advance in Miami.

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Murray Moves On to the Semifinals at the Sony Open

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Murray Moves On to the Semifinals at the Sony Open


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Andy Murray maintained his winning ways at the Sony Open. The reigning U.S. Open champion prevailed over the ninth seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3.

Despite obtaining the initial break for a 2-1 lead, Cilic failed to sustain the momentum. A few more exchanges of breaks followed. After order was restored and the players arrived at 4 all, Cilic gifted his counterpart the break in a game where he committed two double faults.

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Murray into Forth Round at Sony Open

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Murray into Forth Round at Sony Open


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Miami, FL Ricky Dimon
Absences and withdrawals have marked the 2013 Sony Open Tennis event, but Andy Murray–to name just one–is restoring order to the proceedings. Murray earned his second consecutive straight-set win by dismissing Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(3), 6-3 during third-round action on Monday afternoon.

Dimitrov, who lost to Murray in the Brisbane final earlier this season, got off to a fast start. The 21-year-old Bulgarian twice led by a break in the first set but ultimately he could not serve it out at 5-4. Dimitrov also squandered a mini-break advantage in the ensuing tiebreaker and from there he lost the second set in less dramatic fashion.

“He probably got a little bit nervous,” Murray said of Dimitrov, “and that helped me. Once I started to improve my depth a bit I made it tough for him and he started to make more mistakes after that.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga followed suit on the show court and hammered Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and five minutes. Tsonga fought off the only two break points he faced to book a fourth-round showdown against Marin Cilic.

Compared with Cilic (a straight-set victor over John Isner) and Tsonga, Tomas Berdych took a more roundabout way to the last eight. Berdych saved a match point at 3-5 in the second set with a second-serve aces and he survived another in the ensuing tiebreaker. One break in the final frame of play allowed the fourth-seeded Czech to complete his comeback win.

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

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