Tag Archive | "Nadal"

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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Verdasco Scuttles Nadal at the Miami Open

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Verdasco Scuttles Nadal at the Miami Open


IMG_0939_NadalRafael Nadal’s bid for a Miami Open trophy was halted by compatriot Fernando Verdasco today. The former world number seven stunned the second seed 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to claim a slot in the fourth round.

Ironically, Verdasco’s ultimate victory over a top three opponents was over Nadal at the Madrid Masters in 2012. In fact, it represented his first win over his countryman in fourteen attempts. A two time quarterfinalist in Miami, currently ranked 34th, Verdasco entered this event with a 8-6 record.

After letting his chance evaporate at 5-3 to seal the initial set, Verdasco broke Nadal for the second straight game to get the job done.

In the second set, Nadal broke and consolidated for a 4-2 edge. With a second break to carry the set, momentum seemed to have shifted to Nadal’s corner.

Considering the past, it would have been expected normal for doubts to creep into Verdasco’s psyche. Instead, the 2009 Australian Open semifinalist stayed hopeful in the deciding set. After dismissing a couple of break points, with a spectacular inside out crosscourt forehand winner, Verdasco converted on his break point opportunity then pushed his lead to 4-1.

After he failed on his maiden match point in the eighth game, it appears that Verdasco could crumble. Instead, it was the mental stalwart Nadal who misfired on a return at match point number to push his compatriot into the next round.

Nadal summed up what went wrong “I played some good games at the beginning; some good games on the second; not bad at the beginning of the third. But he played well the third, so he deserved to win more than me.”

According to Nadal, his issues go beyond just this match “It’s not the question of tennis. [it's a] question of being relaxed enough to play well on court. My game in general improved from a month and a half. But at the same time, [I'm] still playing with too much nerves in important moments. Something that didn’t happen a lot during my career. I have been able to control my emotions during, 90%, 95% of my matches of my career, something that today is tougher. But I gonna fix it. I don’t know if in one week, in six months, or in one year, but I gonna do it.”

The world number three is adamant that his “nerve” difficulty is not the result of last year’s medical challenges “the physical problems are past. [I'm] feeling much more comfortable in my tennis, practicing well. But still playing on competition feeling more tired than usual, feeling that I don’t have self-confidence that when I hit the ball, I’m gonna hit the ball where I want to hit the ball. All these are small things that are difficult to explain.”

Hard to picture Nadal as a player struggling with nerves and self-control. Yet, he emphasizes although he has experienced it before but “very small for one point, two points. I’m able to say. Okay, I am here. But now, 3 all break point, more or less easy forehand. That was a very important point for me, but shouldn’t be. I lost that point and then affects the next game. I had the break back, 30-love, I miss a forehand, that created doubts again. I have been able to change a lot of negative situations in my career, I am confident that I can do it. I don’t know if I gonna do it, but I hope I can.”

Nadal is not a believer in couch therapy “tennis is not a big deal. Outside of the tennis world when you have some problems in your life, it is good help that you visit a professional who can improve your quality of life. [Tennis] is sport, is game. It is something I need to fix for myself and with my team. Hopefully, the clay helps.”

For his part, Verdasco never doubted even when forced to a decisive set “I was trying to think about how I played the first set and tried to get back that feeling. I tried to keep calm and be aggressive. At same time, cannot be very aggressive, very windy and many times you need to adjust.”

Undisputedly, a colossal win “beating a player like Rafa is the same like you beat [Andy] Murray or [Roger] Federer. It’s always a nice to feel a huge victory in a packed stadium in a very important tournament. Today was a good day. Now I need to try to rest and be ready for the next one.”

With reference to sensing a ‘less confident’, Verdasco replied “we played each other many times and everything happened. Since last time I beat him in Madrid, it was 13 times in a row for him. Some very easy some of them for me having match points. Every match is different. Today I adapted better than him. Normally, he is one of the best with this kind of wind. I’m not inside of him, so he is the one who needs to say about his feelings, not me. What I saw is that he was missing more than normal.”

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Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on

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Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on


IMG_3458_NadalThe twelfth contest between fellow Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro went the way many of the others have gone. Nadal posted a 6-4, 6-2 victory to advance to the third round at the Miami Open.

Almagro came in with a ray of hope after banking his maiden victory over the world number 3 last year in Barcelona. Today was the competitors’ third meeting on hardcourt and Almagro’s triumph materialized on clay a surface he excels at. Moreover, the latter’s 2014 season was marred by a foot injury requiring surgery. Almagro began 2015 on the right foot with a successful South American swing which culminated with a semifinal appearance in Buenos Aires.

Nadal hasn’t been sizzling on any surface of late. His 46th clay court prize in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago was his first since the 2014 French Open. The world number three’s best on hardcourt in 2015 has been quarterfinals at Indian Wells and Australian Open. Consequently, Almagro came in with a ray of hope.

With a flubbed forehand volley by Almagro, Nadal converted on break point in the initial set for 2-1. The 14 time major winner stared down three break points on his serve before securing the set.

In the second set, Almagro dumped a forehand into the net on double break point to place his opponent in the lead at 2-1. Shortly thereafter, Nadal bolstered his edge with a love hold. Later on, with a forehand winner, Nadal cushioned his position with an additional break for 4-1. At that stage, it was clear that Almagro would have to wait another day for the hope of a second victory over his compatriot.

In analyzing his performance, Nadal believes “I played a solid match. . .I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes today with very tough conditions. . .my forehand worked well. . .I’m happy, Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round”.

Nadal was disappointed with some aspects of his game with his loss at Indian Wells. Today, he was determined to “play with no mistakes on the important points. . .last week, I had a lot of opportunities in the quarterfinals. . . I didn’t have a lot of mistakes, he played well. But I lost the opportunities to convert. It’s important to change the dynamic of these things quick. Doing it in this match is important for me”

Commenting on the deluge which followed a few minutes after he was done, “sure important to finish the match before the storm arrived. . .But that can happen here in Miami. It’s nothing new”.

Four times the groomsman, never the groom, the Miami Open has been less kind to Nadal than Indian Wells, he possesses three of those trophies “it is true that Indian Wells has been a tournament that has worked better historically for my game. . .the bounces are higher. . .I like playing in [Miami]. . .some days can be very humid and hard for the body. But in general, they are the conditions I like to play tennis. . .Sea level, hot, no problem, I like to play tennis”.

With the weather delay, Nadal’s third round counterpart has yet to be established. It will be either countryman Fernando Verdasco against whom he has 13-1 mark or 23 year old Australian James Duckworth ranked 97th in a first meeting

Earlier in the day, two time Miami Open champion Andy Murray disposed of Donald Young in two sets 6-4, 6-2. Murray improves his record against the American to 5-1. After surrendering the opening set in a tiebreaker, world number eight, Stanislas Wawrinka knocked out Carlos Berlocq.

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2015 Miami Open Player Field Announced

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2015 Miami Open Player Field Announced


IMG_8310_DjkokovicThe 2015 Miami Open is set to take place from March 23 – April 5. Today, the tournament announced the field of players that will be taking to the courts at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will both be returning to Miami to defend their titles from 2014. From the ATP, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro are also on the acceptance list. From the WTA, Maria Sharapova is still looking to claim her first Miami title. Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova are also on the roster. A complete rundown of the acceptance list is provided in the tournament’s press release below.

Miami Open Field Once Again Unrivaled on Tour Calendar

The hottest ticket in tennis returns to Miami featuring the best players in the world

MIAMI, Fl. (www.miamiopen.com) – The Miami Open may have a new name, but the Grand Slam-quality player field it delivers each spring remains the same. The event received its 2015 official acceptance lists from the ATP and WTA tours and, once again, the line-up is unrivaled among tour events.

With 74 of the top 75 ranked men, including all of the top 50, and each of the top 75 ranked women, the Miami Open player field ranks best on the tennis calendar. The 15 combined Grand Slam Champions, seven men and eight women, scheduled to compete at this year’s tournament are more than any other event on the tours outside of the Grand Slams. Whether you are looking to see a future Hall of Famer, a multiple Grand Slam champion, or a rising star, all will be on display at the Crandon Park Tennis Center during the event’s two weeks, March 23- April 5.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LISTINGS

Tickets to the 2015 Miami Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or online at www.miamiopen.com. An exhilarating two weeks of tennis, fashion, food and fun conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 4 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 5.

Individual session tickets start at just $31 and packages begin at only $136. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of the most glamorous event on both tours.

The 2015 ATP acceptance list features World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, the defending Miami Open champion and reigning Australian Open champ; 17-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer; 14-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal; two-time Grand Slam and Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray; and former US Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro.

The women’s field for 2015 is fierce, featuring 19-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who is the defending Miami Open winner and became the winningest player, male or female, in tournament history when she captured her seventh Miami Open title last year. Seven-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams, five-time Grand Slam champion and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova, two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka and defending Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova are also entered to compete.

Fans will also see last year’s break out stars Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, and Marin Cilic, the surprise winner at the US Open as they make a run for the Miami Open title. On the women’s side rising stars Eugenie Bouchard, a 2014 Wimbledon finalist, and American Madison Keys, who made her first semi-finals appearance at a Grand Slam at this year’s Australian Open, will also be in action.

The Miami Open is more than just a tennis event. Located in one of the world’s most beautiful vacation destinations with a diverse fan base and exquisite dining and luxury shopping offerings, the Miami Open has an energy and excitement that is uniquely Miami.

Qualifying rounds will be played March 23-24 and will determine 12 additional slots in each singles draw. The Miami Open will also award wildcards to five men and eight women. The main draw begins on Tuesday, March 24 as the women take the court, followed by the first round of the men’s main draw on Wednesday, March 25.

About the Miami Open presented by Itaú

The 2015 Miami Open will be played March 23-April 5 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.

About Itaú

Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.

About IMG

IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion and media operating in more than 25 countries around the world. IMG’s businesses include Events & Media, College, Golf, Tennis, Performance and IMG Academy, Fashion, Models, Clients, Licensing, Joint Ventures, and creative management agency Art + Commerce. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency. Together, the companies offer an unparalleled client roster; strategic partnerships with sponsors and brands; and marquee assets across sports, entertainment, events, music and fashion.

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Djokovic Captures Year End Championship by Default

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Djokovic Captures Year End Championship by Default


International Tennis - Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - O2 Arena - London - Day 8 - Sunday 16th November 2014
The much anticipated tussle for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals trophy between the world’s top two players, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, was scrubbed due to injury. Djokovic took home a third consecutive title, his fourth overall, as Federer forfeited the match.

Approximately an hour prior to start time, a packed arena listened to Federer apologizing for his decision not to take the court. The six time year end championship titlist was forced to pull out of today’s contest because of a back problem which surfaced in the semifinals. This was only the third time since turning pro in 1998 that Federer has pulled out of a tournament he began playing and never before in a final. The withdraws from the other matches were also provoked by an unfit back.

The full stadium settled for exhibition matches which organizers scrambled to put together at the ultimate minute. Brit Andy Murray, who was ousted in the round robin round, came to the rescue by playing a set against Djokovic which the latter won. It was followed by a doubles competition featuring John McEnroe and Murray versus Pat Cash and Tim Henman.

What a difference less than twenty four hours make! On Saturday, spectators were treated to two tantalizing matches. The drama between Federer and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka alone was worth the price of admission.

After losing the first set 4-6, Federer scrapped through the second set, breaking Wawrinka at 6-5 to push the match to a deciding set. Subsequent to breaking Federer in the opening game, Wawrinka maintained the advantage and served for his first year end final at 5-4.

With Wawrinka squandering two match points, the third set victor was determined by a tiebreaker. Once again, Federer overcame two match points prior to coming out on top.

Djokovic was also challenged in his semifinal match by Kei Nishikori, the man who shocked him in the semifinals at the U.S. Open this year. After being absent in the opening set and Djokovic seizing it 6-1, Nishikori persevered and took the second 6-3.

However, there would be no full comeback for the Japanese as Djokovic regained the reigns in the third set. The Serb dominated 6-0 to punch his ticket into the last ATP match of 2014.

With today’s triumph, Djokovic became the first player since Ivan Lendl 1985-87 to lift this trophy three years in a row.

Although the ATP season is now concluded, for Federer there is still the matter of the Davis Cup. In just a few days, Switzerland will battle France in the final. 1992 was the only other occasion that Switzerland reached this stage of the competition. That year, the United States captured the win. Consequently, should Federer hoist this distinguishing prize, he will further cement his iconic status in the sport. After all, both Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, his two biggest rivals, have at least one Davis Cup title. Then, the only milestone for the Swiss to conquer would be singles Olympic Gold.

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Djokovic downs Nadal for fourth Sony Open title in Miami

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Djokovic downs Nadal for fourth Sony Open title in Miami



IMG_8540_DjokovicMiami, Ricky Dimon
The fourth time was not the charm for Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, made his fourth time look easy.

Djokovic captured his fourth title at the Sony Open Tennis tournament and dropped Nadal to 0-4 for his career in Miami finals with a 6-3, 6-3 rout on Sunday afternoon. The Serb saved the only break point he faced the entire way in the very first game of the match before cruising in one hour and 23 minutes.

After missing his chance at 30-40 in the opening game, Nadal was rarely competitive. He dropped serve at 2-3 in the first set and Djokovic was off to the races. Miami’s No. 2 seed lost a combined two points in his next two service games to bag the opener. It was all but over when Djokovic broke right away to begin the second with a crushing backhand winner.

For good measure, Djokovic capped off the match in style with his third break of the day. The two competitors saved their best point for last, with Nadal serving at 3-5, 15-40. A furious rally ended when Djokovic answered a backhand volley by the Spaniard with a forehand into the open court.

“This tournament has been perfect from the beginning to the end,” Djokovic reflected. “The matches that I have played I played really well, and I elevated my game as the tournament progressed. The best performance of the tournament came in the right moment on Sunday against the biggest rival.”

“Just the fact that I’m playing against Nadal and playing in the finals, fighting for (the) trophy is already a huge motivation and responsibility to try to perform my best and to kind of be at the right intensity and right focus. I didn’t have any letdowns throughout the whole match. I was in a very high level; serve, backhand, cross-court, forehand…. I have done everything right and I’m thrilled with my performance.”

Nadal did not have to offer much analysis of his own game, because his opponent was simply too good.

“Easy to analyze,” the world No. 1 assured. “[Djokovic] was better than me. That’s it. Some matches are more difficult to say. This one was not that difficult in general. He was better than me in everything.

“Today I felt that he played great, but I feel that he doesn’t need to hit a great shot to be an advantage on the point. So playing against him is the worst thing that can happen for me, because in general, talking about the first two shots, he has a better return than my one, he has a better serve than my one. In this surface especially.”

The surface now changes to clay after a week of Davis Cup quarterfinal action. Nadal and Djokovic are expected back on court for the Monte-Carlo Masters next month.

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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Nadal overcomes Raonic, joins Berdych in Sony Open semifinals

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Nadal overcomes Raonic, joins Berdych in Sony Open semifinals



IMG_8089_NadalMiami, Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal passed his first real test of the Sony Open Tennis tournament with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic during semifinal action on Thursday night. Nadal held his last nine service games and won 20 of 24 service points in the third set before advancing in two hours and 35 minutes.

Raonic had never taken a set off Nadal in four previous meetings and the underdog was going up against an opponent who had dropped a mere nine games in his first three Miami matches. Still, Raonic showed plenty of belief. The 6’5” Canadian saved all three of the break points he faced in the opening frame of play and clinched it when Nadal double-faulted down set point at 4-5.

From there, however, it was all Nadal. The top-ranked Spaniard surged to a 4-0 lead in the second set and earned the decisive break at 3-3 in the third.

“I was lucky at the beginning of the second set,” Nadal explained. “I started with a break and (that) was very important for me. I felt that I finished the match playing better. I think I started the match playing okay, playing well but not playing well (on) the break points.”

Next up for the No. 1 seed is Tomas Berdych, who got the best of Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-6(3). Berdych fired 11 aces and battled back from a break down in each of the two sets as he prevailed in one hour and 45 minutes. Dolgopolov, an Indian Wells semifinalist, was doomed by 48 percent serving and just 35 percent of his second-serve points won.

Berdych is now 4-0 lifetime against Dolgopolov, but the story is a much different one against Nadal. The Czech trails the head-to-head series 17-3 and has lost 16 consecutive matches.

“I don’t even know the number, Berdych said, referring to his streak of futility with Nadal on the other side of the net “I stopped counting.”

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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Federer, Nadal remain on fire at Sony Open

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Federer, Nadal remain on fire at Sony Open


IMG_7422_FedererIt’s still a long way away with two of the greatest players of all time on opposite sides of the draw, but Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing like they want to deliver another installment of one of tennis’ best-ever rivalries in the final of the Sony Open Tennis tournament.

Federer and Nadal lost a combined lost a combined seven games in fourth-round blowouts on Tuesday. The fifth-ranked Swiss rolled over Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2 during the afternoon before Nadal eased past Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2 at night.

In three matches so far, Federer has not dropped a set and he has surrendered only nine games in total in his last two rounds. The Indian Wells runner-up turned in a near-flawless performance against Gasquet, striking six aces without double-faulting while converting five of six break chances and saving the only break point he faced.

“Things went well out on the court today,” Federer assured. “I served well. I made my returns I had to and stayed aggressive, so I didn’t let him just make errors. I forced him to do stuff. It was a good match for me.”

It was hardly a match at all for Nadal against an uninspired Fognini. The Italian never appeared to have any belief and he also moved gingerly with his thigh heavily taped. It all resulted in one hours and two minutes of one-way traffic. Miami’s No. 1 seed has now yielded a mere nine games in three matches at this event.

“I think I was very focused and solid with my serve,” Nadal explained. “That’s very important thing for me and my game when I am playing on hard.”

Andy Murray had a similarly routine day at the office in a 6-4, 6-1 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray lost a miniscule six points in eight service games while advancing in one hour and 13 minutes. Next up for the Scot is a showdown with Novak Djokovic, who defeated Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5.

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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Nadal rolls at Sony Open, Isner lone advancing American

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Nadal rolls at Sony Open, Isner lone advancing American


IMG_6785_NadalMiami Ricky Dimon
Almost nothing has come easy for Rafael Nadal in 2014. But that is exactly how he made it look on Saturday night at the Sony Open Tennis tournament.

Nadal began his week in convincing fashion as he rolled over Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and nine minutes. The world No. 1 converted four of five break points and faced none on his own serve during the second-round blowout.

Hewitt, the Brisbane champion from earlier this season, lost the first four games of the match before finally holding serve. The 33-year-old Australian eventually had a game point at 3-4 in the second only to lose three straight points and get broken. Nadal dropped only eight points in eight service games and he wrapped up the proceedings with one last routine hold at 5-3.

The Australian Open runner-up, who lost to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the Indian Wells third round, will go up against Denis Istomin on Monday. Istomin reeled off nine games in a row from the start of the second set to 3-0 in the third during a 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-0 win over Dmitry Tursunov. Istomin crushed 19 aces and benefited from 14 double-faults by his opponent, against whom the Uzbek is already 3-1 this year.

In what is becoming old habit for John Isner, the 6’10” American is his country’s last hope on the men’s side. Isner is the only player flying the USA flag in the third round after he battled past compatriot Donald Young 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 55 minutes.

A back-and-forth match saw the world No. 10 lose the opening tiebreaker before seizing a break early in the second. Isner gave it back at 4-2, but Young dropped serve again at 3-4 to let Isner close it out one game later. A quick break in the third ultimately decided the outcome in Isner’s favor.

“I thought I played pretty well,” said the 10th seed, who fired 16 aces. “A lot of times it comes down to a one-set situation for the match and having my serve on my side, it helps. I had a lot of adrenaline going through me, especially when I was up a break. It was one of those things where I go out there and serve my hardest, serve my biggest and win the match.”

Next up for Isner is Nicolas Almagro, who eliminated another American in Sam Querrey via a 6-4, 6-4 scoreline.

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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