Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic cruised to his 13th straight win in Miami Friday night pounding Lukos Rosol 6-1, 6-0. The match began about 10:30pm local time after earlier play was backed up because of a 3-hour afternoon rain delay and then later by a 30-minute power outage on the grounds during the earlier part of the night session.
“It is a great start,” said Djokovic after the win over Rafael Nadal’s Wimbledon conqueror. “After Indian Wells, I tried to rest. There are different conditions here, but tonight was perfect for tennis. I enjoyed every moment of it and I love this court.
“I probably had a seven-hour delay in Indian Wells before the fourth round, so this was a mild delay,” he added. “The hotel where we are staying is nearby, so it’s convenient to rest and prepare.”
Djokovic suffered his first loss of the season last weekend to Juan Martin Del Potro in a three-set thriller at Indian Wells. After falling in the finals to Nadal the next day in the desert, Del Potro couldn’t get on track at all on the East Coast today dropping a stunner today to Tobias Kamke 7-6, 6-1. The match was also suspended because of the rain after the first set.
“I was excited to play here, but, you know, just a bad day and he play really well,” Del Potro said. “He took the chance to beat me tonight, and I think that’s it.”
Del Potro said the loss will give him time to rest his ailing left wrist. “I will have a big rest for my wrist, and that’s important to be ready and be 100% in my next tournament,” he said. “Sometimes is bothering me, but sometimes I can manage it, my pains, but wasn’t today. I think he deserved to win, and it’s okay.”
Said the German Kamke, a former ATP Newcomer of the Year, “It was my second win over a top 10 player. I won already against one in 2010, which was since now my best win. But this one today was the same. So I think it was one of my two best matches I’ve played and two best wins of my career.”
Other winners on the day included James Blake, Tommy Haas, Janko Tipsarevic, Kei Nishikori, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Gilles Simon who upended Lleyton Hewitt.
In the women’s field, former No. 1 and 2-time tournament champion Victoria Azarenka withdrew due to her injured right foot. The Belarussian has now withdrawn from her last three events (she did play in Indian Wells, but then withdrew).
“Well, the decision was really hard to make, but it’s I mean, in one case it was really hard to make,” Azarenka said. “In the other case it was really obvious what the decision was couple days ago already. It’s just I wanted to give my 100% possibility to play, and today was my last test. It’s just, you know, the last two days I tried to practice on it, which did not get better. Just got to a point where I kind of stopped at Indian Wells. So it just gives me a very obvious indication that it’s not possible for me to play.”
Azarenka’s spot was taken by lucky loser Lauren Davis who made the most of her fortune saving three matchpoints in taking out fellow American teen Madison Keys in a third set breaker 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(7).
“I’m so ecstatically happy,” the 19-year-old Davis said. “I came here this morning with like no hope left that I was going to get in, because I had seen Azarenka practicing and stuff, but I just hoped and I wished and I prayed that I would get in. And so I got a call at 10:00 a.m. saying I got in. I was just so happy. I didn’t care if I won or lost. I just was so grateful for the opportunity to play.”
All the seeds in the Top 15 rolled on Friday including Maria Sharapova who blasted Canadian teen Genie Bouchard 6-2, 6-0. The Russian’s match was interrupted mid-way by that blackout but it didn’t affect the outcome.
“I was just trying to find a quiet corner where I could just rest and just wait it out, I guess,” Sharapova said of the delay. “I have been on the tour for many years and I have been part of a few delays. Maybe not a power outage, but you treat it as maybe a rain delay and you go in, and as soon as you have to get out and just be ready, do a quick warmup, and be ready for the match.”
On tap on a busy Saturday are Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco, Tomas Berdych, John Isner and former champ Andy Murray who meets Bernard Tomic in the marquee men’s match.
Five-time champion and local favorite Serena Williams returns under the lights. Caroline Wozniacki, defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na are also in action plus Venus Williams battles rising American Sloane Stephens in the best women’s match on the card. Sloane beat Serena in January at the Australian Open, now Venus has a chance for family revenge.
“Yeah, she’s doing great,” Venus said of Stephens. “I know it’s been exciting for her. I know there is more to come for her. It’s just, you know, step by step.
“In any match it’s important for you to execute on your side, because if you don’t the match is over. So I’m just going to try to play well.”
Venus first won Miami three decades ago in 1998.
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