He may be ranked No. 2, but Novak Djokovic is playing nothing like the second best player in the world. Djokovic was first major casualty of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami losing a shocker to Olivier Rochus 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-4 in the second round.
For Djokovic, expectations were high in Miami. After a poor Indian Wells where he was clearly fatigued following a hectic stretch of Dubai and Davis Cup, Djokovic came into Miami as a contender and a two-time finalist having won in 2007. But for the third time the Serb fails to reach the third round.
“Well, I just didn’t play well. That’s it,” Djokovic said. “It happens, you know. You know, everybody plays tennis. Since I don’t sometimes you feel great on the court. You can win against anybody. Sometimes you don’t feel confident. It’s a mental game definitely.”
Novak’s serve has born the brunt of criticism and against the diminutive Rochus he again languished serving 11 double faults, six in the third set. And while he was hitting on 61% of first serves he only won 69% of those and just 30% on his second offering. He broken six times during the match, three times in the final set.
“You know, I’m working on it,” Djokovic said of his serve. “As I said, you know, when you don’t feel on the court well, when you don’t just feel your strokes, and, you know, serve, which is a very important element in the game, today’s tennis, if it doesn’t go well, then, you know, opponents feel the pressure that you’re feeling. Made a lot of double faults when I didn’t need when I didn’t have to, and that’s it.”
And that’s it for Novak’s hard court season until August. With mega-points coming off from runner-ups in Monte Carlo and Rome and a Madrid semifinal plus his Miami final from last year, he’ll have to work hard just to keep his No. 2 ranking for the French Open and stay within reach of No. 1 Federer. At least now he’ll have some time off to rest and think about his game which right now is circling the drain.
Other winners on day three at the South Florida tennis stop were Andy Roddick, who ousted the struggling Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-4, Rafael Nadal topped Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-3 and JW Tsonga won by the same score over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Indian Wells winner Ivan Ljubicic was gone early after retiring with a bad back to Ben Becker.
While Roddick’s match business as usual, his post-match comments were anything but. The former No. 1 ripped into Wayne Odesnik who was busted for possessing HGH yesterday.
“If he pled guilty, which it looks like he did, there’s nothing worse than that,” Roddick said. “I’m normally the one to give people the benefit of the doubt. If that’s the case, what we read today, that’s just plain cheating and they should throw him out of tennis. There’s just no room for it. I was shocked. I was surprised. You know, we don’t need stories like that. You know, I know that’s the minority. If that’s the case, I have zero sympathy.”
Roddick’s buddies had mixed results. Big John Isner did his customary thing winning in a third set breaker over Michael Russell while his fellow American’s James Blake (Belucci) and Sam Querrey (Chardy) were both losers on the day.
For the women, Justine Henin rolled over Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2. Unlike Indian Wells, looks like Henin’s showing up for this one. Kim Clijsters, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, defending champ Viktoria Azarenka were also winners along with Vera Zvonareva who thumped Melanie Oudin 6-1, 6-2.
A big schedule is on for today – with TV coverage on Fox Sports if you get it in the US – with Roger Federer on tonight vs. Nicolas Lapentti. Andy Murray faces Mardy Fish in the daytime. Fernando Verdasco, Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal who will play the Bryans in doubles are also playing.
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