It’s the end of March and Novak Djokovic still hasn’t lost a match on the year! Yesterday, the streaking Serb won his 24th straight match beating Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals of the Miami Tennis Masters.
“You obviously get confidence with 24 wins in a row,” Djokovic said after beating the man who upset him in Miami in 2008. “It keeps getting better, of course. But I don’t want to be carried away from that. I want to keep on working hard and taking one match at a time. You know, when it stops, it stops, but I’m definitely focusing on the next opponent.”
Novak’s next opponent in the semifinals will be Mardy Fish who to my surprise has upset Juan Martin Del Potro and yesterday David Ferrer in consecutive rounds.
Fish’s semifinal effort also moves him ahead of Andy Roddick in the rankings making Mardy the top ranked American man in tennis. Roddick, who lost in the second round to Pablo Cuevas, was defending 1000 points from his 2010 win.
“I didn’t know how I was going to feel coming into today, especially having such a hard fought match yesterday,” Fish said after defeating Ferrer 7-5, 6-2. “It was hot and humid yesterday. I just haven’t played in those conditions in a long time. That was partly the problem there in the end. Just tried to hydrate as much as I could and get back.”
Fish, who prefers to play in the hot, humid conditions of Florida where he grew, now gets Djokovic likely in the Friday afternoon Miami heat. Through his 24 match wins – he hasn’t lost since February – Djokovic has dropped just FIVE sets!
Today, all eyes will be on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as they try to set up semifinal showdown, and I think it’s going to happen.
Both guys are playing pretty well – I’d rate Rafa’s quarterfinal march just ahead of Federer’s. Neither player has lost a set although they haven’t really been tested, that is until today.
Federer gets a rematch with Mr. Smooth Gilles Simon. At the Australian, Federer was pushed to very brink by Simon before the Swiss finally got him in five very tough, tense sets.
“He’s a great player so matches against him are never easy,” Federer said after that Australian win. “This is the first win I’ve had against him. I wasn’t playing poorly to lose the third and fourth sets. I really think Gilles took it to me. Every time we play we go the distance, so hopefully we don’t play each other anymore.”
Simon is still 2-1 career vs Federer so he’ll have more than enough confidence against the Swiss. And Simon loves the pace and the ball that Federer can suplly. Still, I think Federer gets through this in a match that goes the distance. To do it, though, he’ll have to serve well, mix up his shots and as always, no shanks! Otherwise the Frenchman will get him again.
The hot, humid conditions could also play a role. Federer’s also coming off very, very late finish from his Tuesday night win over Olivier Rochus.
Tonight, Nadal will have his hands full with the dangerous Tomas Berdych. The Czech upset Federer in the evening a year ago in Miami and after a poor finish to the 2010 season he seems to have righted his game.
However, Rafa has won the last eight against Berdych (leads 9-3) including 19 straight sets! So in this Wimbledon final rematch the numbers definitely favor Nadal and I like him in straight sets.
“Difficult match always,” Nadal said. “We know each other. We played a lot of times, and I know just play my best tennis I gonna have chances against him. He can play very, very good, and I have to play very solid all the time with my serve and wait a chance on the return.”
Overall, I still like Nadal winning the Miami title. Though the road is daunting with Berdych then Federer then Djokovic. It’s a tough ask but if anyone is up for the challenge it’s Rafa.
The women will play one semifinal today with Maria Sharapova against Andrea Petkovic. The second semi after Nadal features Victoria Azarenka against Vera Zvonareva. Is a Saturday screamfest final between Sharapova and Azarenka ahead?
With the Tennis Channel wrapped up, ESPN2 will have full coverage today starting at 1pm with the Sharapova match. Live streaming is also available.
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
 A Petkovic (GER) vs  M Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 3:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  G Simon (FRA)
Not Before 7:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
Not Before 9:00 PM
 V Zvonareva (RUS) vs  V Azarenka (BLR)
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