After two days of bracket-busting upsets things returned to form for the top players Sunday at the Tennis Masters Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Among the winners were Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, JW Tsonga, Kim Clijsters Caroline Wozniacki, Justin Henin and Jelena Jankovic.
In the match of the day Nadal escaped the grip of David Nalbandian to beat his nemesis 6-7(8), 6-2, 6-2. After winning a nailbiter of a tiebreak in the first, Nalbandian has chances to go up an early break in the second set. But Nadal toughed it out
“When you go on court against a player with talent, you are always a little bit scared,” said Nadal who is seeking his first title since last May. “I think having a long first set for everything was better for me than for him. [In the second set] I felt he was a little bit more tired than me. He started to have more mistakes, and was a little bit easier for me to play.”
He added, “For me, important thing is try to be in the final. But, you know, I am in fourth round for me, no, so it’s far away from that moment. Step by step, and sure it’s important win for me today and I very happy for that. I very happy how I am doing in this American hardcourt season. Every match right now I want to be really important for me, and every victory give me confidence.”
I caught most of the match and Nadal looks to be playing pretty good. Nalbandian just matches up really well against Rafa but credit to Nadal to hanging in. If he plays like this there’s no reason he cannot be in the final.
Nadal now meets his countryman David Ferrer who beat Ivo Karlovic 7-6, 6-3. Karlovic’s giant-mate John Isner also was dispelled by a Spaniard. In the surprise of the day Juan Carlos Ferrero knocked down Isner in three sets. Ferrero will play Tsonga next on Tuesday. The Frenchman was an easy winner over Phil Kohlschreiber in the evening.
Roddick also won handily taking Sergei Stakhovsky behind the woodshed with a 6-2, 6-1 55-minute drumming. Roddick’s “dream draw” continues with Benjamin Becker on Tuesday then either Nicolas Almagro or Tomasz Bellucci in the quarters.
I felt good,” Roddick said. “It’s rare that you kind of walk off thinking everything kind of went the way that you wanted it to. There’s definitely that feeling when you play a whole lot of matches in a row where a lot of it your kind of muscle memory takes over a little bit. You know, you’re able to just kind of be free a little bit. I think I’m kind of getting to that point a little bit.”
On the women’s side, all the big names go through to the fourth round today. Henin, Clijsters, Azarenka, Jankovic and Vera Zvonareva all won in straight sets while Wozniacki who seems to be the female version of Novak Djokovic of late – always playing tough, close matches – squeaked by Maria Kirilenko.
A big day is in store Monday. Roger Federer returns against Florent Serra. Mardy Fish and Feliciano Lopez meet and in what might be the best men’s match, Marcos Baghdatis and Marin Cilic will battle. Fernando Gonzalez, Robin Soderling and Fernando Verdasco are also scheduled.
The women’s field arguably has the better matchups tomorrow with Clijsters v. Azarenka and at night Henin v. Zvonareva. Three-time champ Venus Williams is also on in the day against Daniela Hantuchova.
TV coverage here in the U.S. is on Fox during the day and Tennis Channel at night.
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