Tag Archive | "Nadal"

Djokovic Vanquishes Del Potro for Third U.S. Open Crown

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Djokovic Vanquishes Del Potro for Third U.S. Open Crown


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In 2002, Pete Sampras capped his illustrious career by claiming his 14th major at the U.S. Open, a number which seemed insurmountable for future generation at the time. Today, Novak Djokovic downed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 to hoist the U.S. Open trophy, tying Sampras’ record.

What was suppose to be a routine seventh service game for Del Potro, up 40-0, turned into a nightmare as Djokovic induced a series of miscues to seize the break. Quickly, with an uneventful hold, the Serb sealed the first set.

On the surface, it was a straight sets victory. However, the match was anything but straightforward. After Djokovic broke in the opening game of the second set, Del Potro returned the favor in the fifth game. Up 4-3, the Argentine could not penetrate Djokovic’s formidable defense. Consequently, the Serb dismissed three break points in an eighth game which lasted 20 minutes. The set was decided by a tiebreaker. After the initial three points went against the server, Del Potro finally gained a 3-1 advantage with a forehand down the line winner. Yet, with the same stroke misfiring, the players were back on serve. With two consecutive errors on serve, Del Potro went down 4-5. As the Argentine’s forehand, his most ominous weapon, deserted him, a 95 minutes set terminated with Del Potro netting a crosscourt forehand.

Again it was Djokovic pocketing the early break for 3-1 in the third set. Still, Del Potro clawed his way back and ultimately levelled the score. Djokovic’s steady play put an end to Del Potro’s two game streak and the Serb moved ahead 4-3. Promptly with a forehand flub and a double fault, Del Potro stared at double break point. As the Argentine’s backhand sailed wide, Djokovic secured the 5-3 lead. Soon, a forehand down the line winner gave Djokovic match point. It was all the Serb needed as he struck an overhead winner to conclude the set and nab his third championship after 3 hours and 15 minutes.

A chant broke out from his horde of fans as the 2018 finalist stepped up to the mic during the trophy ceremony. Del Potro cited “it’s not easy to speak right now, but I love you too guys. I’m so happy to be playing the final against this magnificent idol. He is one of my friends on tour, he knows if there is one player I want to watch winning title is him. Of course, I’m sad because I [loss], but I’m happy for Novak and his team as well. You deserve to win”.

For Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open titlist and world number three, it’s been a long journey to his second major final. With multiple wrist surgeries, there was doubt that he would ever return to this caliber of tennis. He expressed “I never gave up. . . I was trying to fix all my injuries to be back here, I got it after nine years which is amazing to me because the U.S. Open is my favorite tournament on tour and I am very proud for that”.

Always one to look at the glass more than half full, Del Potro conveyed in Spanish “I want to thank my team, all those who have helped me to get to this stage, my friends, all the people who have supported me. Even from those in Argentina, I could feel the energy. Lastly, I believe at times one can win or lose a tournament, but the love of the people is worth as much as this trophy. I already have this trophy, so I’ll take away with me the love from all of you”.

Post elbow surgery in March, Djokovic was an average player. A semifinal run in Rome where he fell to Rafael Nadal improved his record to 7-6. After an unexpected ousting by Marco Cecchinato in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, Djokovic may have hoped, yet, it would hard to imagine that he’d bank on triumphs at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He credits his resurgence to the “support of the love ones, my kids, my wife, my team, a small group of people that has been with me through difficult times as well. When I had the surgery this year, I could truly understand what Juan Martin was going through. . . You learn from adversity. . . I tried to take the best out of myself in these moments.”

What does this title signify for Djokovic, equaling Sampras’ feat, third on the all time list “I was hoping he was going to be here tonight, Pete you are my idol and I love you”. Moreover, Djokovic stated “I want to congratulate Juan Martin for what he has done, coming back last five years, having faith and belief in himself that one day he will be a top player. I wish him all the best. I know he is going to be here again with the champion trophy”.

With Nadal retiring in the semifinals with a knee injury after being down 2 sets to Del Potro, his future is uncertain. Thus, with this win, Djokovic gains traction, moving from a ranking of six to top three. As such, he has a realistic shot at ending as the year end number one.

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Djokovic Picks Up Fourth Wimbledon Trophy

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Djokovic Picks Up Fourth Wimbledon Trophy



Novak Djokovic dispatched Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 in the Wimbledon finals in order to acquire his 4th major at that the All England Club.

At the beginning of this fortnight, it’s unlikely that the odds maker had the South African on their radar. Anderson, the 2017 U.S. Open runner up, shocked Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Never previously winning a set in their four prior meetings, he overcame a 0-2 set deficit, match point, to prevail 13-11 in the fifth, in a match lasting 4 hour and 14 minute. Two days later, clashing with John Isner, a player no stranger to marathon matches, Anderson outlasted the American 26-24 in the decisive set, he was on court for 6 hour and 36 minute. Djokovic for his part endured a 5 hour 15 minute tussle with Rafael Nadal in the semifinals over two days edging the Spaniard 10-8 in the fifth. Would fatigue be a factor as Anderson attempted to elevate his status not only to the first South African to get to the last dance, but to that of victor at this venue?

The two competitors had met 6 times before. The South African’s sole win was at the Miami Open in 2008. Anderson’s inability to connect on his most valuable asset the serve, gave Djokovic the initial game as the South African double faulted. Swiftly with another errant forehand by Anderson, Djokovic consolidated for 2-0. Later, with Anderson dumping a backhand volley into the net, Djokovic capitalized on another break point and with a love game padded his lead to 5-1. With this insurmountable advantage, Djokovic eventually captured the set.

Concern over his right elbow prompted Anderson to call the trainer for treatment, however, this was not sufficient to slow down Djokovic. A backhand miscue handed Djokovic breakpoint in the opening game. In a carbon copy of the first set, the Serb cashed in and after a hold jumped in front 2-0. Down the road, a double fault by Anderson gifted Djokovic 15-40. With the South African’s forehand up the line landing wide, Djokovic moved ahead 4-1. Serving for the set at 5-2, Djokovic’s stroke misfired off a tremendous return by his opponent. Yet, Anderson failed to convert on his first break opportunity. Djokovic went on to pocket the second set.

In the third set, with time his adversary, Anderson changed tactics slightly by coming to the net more frequently. In the eight game, a let court allowed the South African to control the point and get a break chance. However, with his backhand traveling long, Djokovic arrived at deuce and ultimately leveled the score at 4-4. The Serbian stared down two set points in his next service game. After a love hold by Anderson for 6-5, his best window to take the set came with Djokovic’s forehand down the line flub giving him 15-40. Still it was a no go. A third break point was swiftly dismissed by Djokovic. Soon with an ace, the score was 6-6. In the tiebreaker, Djokovic curled a forehand up the line pass for a winner for 3-1. Then, with Anderson’s backhand volley missing it’s target, the Serb sprinted to a 5-1 edge. With Anderson’s return finding the net, Djokovic sealed the deal at 7-3.

Anderson drove as hard as he could to make the match competitive “first and second sets, Novak beat up on me pretty bad. The whole fortnight I tried my best to keep at it, came a point or two from pushing it to the fourth set. It would have been great to play longer here. But playing against Novak isn’t easy. He is a true champion of our sport and congratulation to him.” Commenting on his physical condition, Anderson said “I am definitely not as fresh now as I was coming into the week. But this is such an amazing tournament for us players. We dedicate our whole lives to fight for a spot to be on this court. . . there’s only been a few individuals who’ve made it out here, so that’s what it takes for me to get to here, I would have given another 21 hours. It really meant a lot to me.”

After a 2 year drought, Djokovic has his 13th major “It feels amazing [to be holding the trophy] because for the first time I have someone screaming daddy, daddy. . . I’m very emotional. . . I want to congratulate Kevin and his team. . . In his first Wimbledon final, he didn’t play his best for two sets, but in the third, he was the better player. I was quite lucky to get through ”

Following his career grand slam achievement in 2016 at the French Open, Djokovic hit a dirt patch with only two titles in 2017. A round of 16 exit at the Australian Open this year finally convinced him that a niggling elbow issue could not be fixed with rehab, he underwent surgery. In addition, returning to familiar roots, coach Marian Vjada, considering today’s outcome was his most astute decision. Djokovic cited “I had to trust the process. . . I owe a great thanks to my team, last couple of years it hasn’t been easy. With a severe injury, I had many moments of doubt and did not know whether I could come back to a level to compete. . . No better place in the world to make a comeback, it’s a sacred place for the world of tennis”

When the new rankings are revealed, Djokovic will rejoin the top 10 from his current position at 21. While Anderson crack the top 5 for the first time from his spot at 8.

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Fabulous Friday at the Miami Open Features Nadal and Nishikori in Action

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Fabulous Friday at the Miami Open Features Nadal and Nishikori in Action


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Friday the men will be the main attraction at the Miami Open as top ten players finally take court for second round play. The initial ATP match on display in Stadium Court showcases world number four Kei Nishikori against Kevin Anderson. The two played on three previous occasions all in 2015. Nishikori holds a 2-1 advantage in the win column. A former top 10 player, Anderson’s ranking has fallen to 74 due to niggling injury the last two seasons. However in looking to rebound, the 6 foot 8 inch South African will be quite a handful for Nishikori last year’s Miami Open finalist.

Later on in the afternoon, four time Miami Open finalist Rafael Nadal, with the absence of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, begins his hunt for his first title in South Florida. Standing in the way in his maiden match is Dudi Sela. They’ve battled once before at the Australian Open with The Spaniard prevailing comfortably in three sets.

In the evening session, Grigor Dimitrov collides with Guido Pella on Stadium court. Two years ago, they duked it out with Dimitrov edging the Argentine out in two tough sets 7-6,6-4. Ranked 13th in the world, Dimitrov should handle his opponent, now at 178, with ease. But factoring in that the Argentinian will have plenty of support from the pro South American crowd, things might get dicey for the Bulgarian.

American Jack Sock fresh off his semifinal run at Indian Wells faces off against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka who himself as a lucky loser in the desert, had the tournament of his young tennis life so far. Nishioka shocked Ivo Karlovic and Tomas Berdych to arrive at the round of 16. He nearly collected his biggest scalp against Miami Open top seed Stanislas Wawrinka before succumbing in a third set tiebreaker after failing to close out the match twice after being up a break. In their second meeting, Sock hopes to do better than their first in Acapulco this year since he was unable to collect the W.

On the ladies’ side, with sister Serena sideline by injury, Venus Williams carries the family’s hope for this Miami Open. The three time champion last made an appearance in the finals in 2010 with an unfavorable result. She clashes with Beatriz Haddad Maia for the first time in the second round. Also, World number one Angelique Kerber starts her campaign for the title, looking to improving on her best showing in South Florida which was a semifinal berth in 2016. The German contends with China’s Ying-Ying Duan, the two have never battled.

Click here for Friday’s complete order of play.

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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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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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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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Spanish Armada: Nadal and Verdasco advance in Miami Open doubles draw

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Spanish Armada: Nadal and Verdasco advance in Miami Open doubles draw


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Miami, Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco won their opening match at the Miami Open on Thursday evening, beating Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal and Verdasco needed one hour and nine minutes to set up a showdown against the American duo of John Isner and Nicholas Monroe.

The all-Spanish pairing took control with a service break at 2-2 in the first set when Nadal chose to return on the deuce point and started it nicely with a stellar backhand return. The Spaniards broke again at 5-3 to finish off the opening frame of play in style.

Bolelli and Seppi appeared to be on their way out after donating serve at 0-1 in the second. Out of nowhere, however, Verdasco stumbled through the following service game with a flurry of errors and one double-fault to let the Italians back in the match. Bolelli soon found himself serving to stay in the match at 4-5, at which point another deuce situation ensued. Verdasco got a shot at it this time and sent back a strong return that induced a match-ending error.

Isner and Monroe pulled off an upset in an all-North American showdown against Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil. The former UGA Bulldog and UNC Tar Heel saved 11 of 12 break points on their way to a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory. Sock and Pospisil, who finished runner-up in Indian Wells, won a horrendous 60 percent of the points when they put their first serves in the court.

As the first round of singles action wrapped up, Denis Istomin produced a shocking comeback at the expense of Borna Coric. Istomin had not won a single match all season long and it looked like more of the same would continue when Coric served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. The 19-year-old Croat twice came within two points of victory, at 30-15 and 30-30 at 5-4. But Istomin broke back to stay alive and then broke again to force a third.

It was soon Coric’s turn to battle back from a break deficit, which the world No. 46 did at 1-3. A streak of holds brought the proceedings to a 6-5 Istomin advantage and Coric buckled under the pressure when he served to stay in the match for a second time. Istomin broke at love to clinch a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 triumph after two hours and 45 minutes.

Among those joining the Uzbek in round two were Tim Smyczek, Denis Kudla, Sergiy Stakhovsky, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

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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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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Djokovic and Nishikori March on to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open

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Djokovic and Nishikori March on to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open


Djokoivc_MO_RFIn search of his third double-double, the combination of Indian Wells and Miami Open trophies, Novak Djokovic took another step forward today in beating Steve Darcis 6-0, 7-5 to move into the round of 16.

There is not much to discuss about an opening set, where the world number one posted a bagel against his peer. After Djokovic seized seven successive games, Darcis at last made his presence felt in the second set.

The 31 year old qualifier, in his maiden third round at the Miami Open, overcame three break points before holding serve for 2 all. As Djokovic continued to push, Darcis again was made to work to level the score in the sixth game.

The possibility of a third set became imminent as the Belge broke for 5-4 and had the opportunity to steal a set. However, the four time champion was in no mood for a decisive set. Djokovic took the next three games to dash any of his rival’s hopes.

Djokovic acknowledged that the second set was a tad hairy “the drop of the intensity and the fact that I didn’t use the opportunities early [on] resulted in a close second set. He’s got a lot of variety, especially from the backhand side, he slices pretty well. I was handling it really good, then started to make some unforced errors, complicated my own life. But at the end of the day, it’s a win.”

All players go through periods of self doubt as Rafael Nadal confessed when he loss to Fernando Verdasco. Djokovic admits that he is not the exception “more or less every single match you go through these moments. We are all humans and go through emotional ups and downs depending on the quality and intensity of the match. I understand what [Nadal] is talking about because I’m playing for many years at this high level and I know [the] pressure and expectations [that go along]. It’s normal to have periods of crisis, feel more doubt than confidence in important moments and you lose a couple of matches. I’m sure Nadal is somebody who knows exactly how to deal with this particular situation and how to get better.”

Next, Djokovic takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov. A quarterfinalist in 2014, the Ukranian defeated Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets.

Looking ahead, Djokovic cited “he’s feeling good. He likes this surface, a bit slower court with higher bounce. He has a very quick dynamic motion on the serve and can serve very big for somebody of his height. I know what to expect. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start as well as I did in the first two matches, but end it in a bit different way.”

In the opening match of the grandstand, Kei Nishikori needed only 63 minutes to send off Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-2. Also in action was Spaniard David Ferrer. The 2013 finalist took care of Lukas Rosol 6-4, 7-5 and will duke it out with Gilles Simon for a berth in the quarterfinals. Milos Raonic outlasted Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 5-7, 7-6. Raonic will find John Isner across the net. The American ousted Grigor Dimitrov the ninth seed with a 7-6, 6-2 triumph.

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