Former champion Andy Murray got off to a blistering start Saturday at the Miami Tennis Masters, easing past Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-1. The 2009 champ and 2012 runner-up had little trouble with the Australian 20-year-old who lived up to his “Tomic the Tank Engine” moniker in the second set nary putting up much of a fight inciting jeers from the pro-Murray crowd.
“The one thing I would say is that if you aren’t used to playing in these conditions, it is extremely hot and tough to play,” Murray said of the crowd’s reaction to Tomic’s play. “It is tough when you’re going behind and making quite a lot of mistakes. I have done it before when my head has gone down and you still want to win, but it doesn’t always appear that way. So I don’t know. The crowd, they’re free to do whatever they want. They pay the money and they can greet players however they would like.”
Next for Murray is another youngster, Grigor Dimitrov, who advanced when his opponent, Simone Bolleli retired in the second set.
“Grigor has very good feel,” Murray said. “Bernard is a really big guy. He sometimes doesn’t, he kind of hunches over a bit, but he’s 6’4″, 6’5″. He’s a big guy. That can help, too. It’s tough to say who’s better. They have had similar results. Maybe Bernard, he’s done better in the slams and obviously won a tournament. Grigor has played well this year.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Nicolas Almagro and Marin Cilic were among the other top European winners on Saturday. Closer to home, American stars Sam Querrey and John Isner both struggled but survived in three sets. Isner found himself down a set and a point for 5-3 before winning the second against Ivan Dodig. The Croat then served for the match at 6-5 in the third but couldn’t mentally keep it together falling to the American No. 2 in a third set breaker.
“I was able to turn it around once I got back even in that second set,” said Isner who hasn’t lost a tiebreak this year. “I felt pretty confident from there, and I started playing better. I started moving better and moving my feet better and getting to the balls in time; whereas before I was just flailing at the ball and everything was missing. I was missing everything. But once I got that little spark, gave me a little extra energy, and you know, it went from there.”
Isner meets Cilic on Monday.
Fernando Verdasco’s struggles continued as the Spaniard was dumped by Alejandro Falla in straight sets in the stadium night match. The former Top 10 has just three wins on the tour after three months of play.
The big story in the women’s draw was the withdrawal of Venus Williams. The three-time tournament champion was scheduled to play fellow American Sloane Stephens but a back injury kept her from the match.
“Yesterday I was having some pain, and then just wanted to see how I felt in the warmup. Just, you know, not able to play today,” Venus said. “It’s really disappointing. You know, this is just the kind of tournament that, you know, you want to play well at. But, you know, I have faced disappointments in my life and my career. It’s not the first; probably not the last. Just have to get through it and stay positive.”
Venus’s younger sister, Serena, did take the court in the nighttime and after going down 3-0 cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Ayumi Morita. Because of traffic, Serena said she actually rode a bicycle to get to the match.
“The traffic was crazy and everyone was like, I have been here for an hour and I’m staying like eight minutes away,” Serena said. “They were in the traffic for an hour. I’m like, Okay, I’m not going to make my match if I don’t get there. So I asked for a golf cart, and the hotel didn’t have a golf cart. Then they were like, we have a motor bike. I’m like, I don’t do motor bikes. They said, We have a bicycle. I said, I really don’t do bicycles, but I will today. It was fun.”
Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska won in three sets while two upsets of note took place. Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was upset by rising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Kirsten Flipkens KO’d Petra Kvitova.
Tomorrow’s highlights include Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Maria Sharapova and in a battle of former French Open champions, it’s Ana Ivanovic vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova.
STADIUM start 11:00 am
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
 A Kerber (GER) vs  S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
 E Vesnina (RUS) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs S Devvarman (IND) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs  A Ivanovic (SRB) – WTA
Not Before 9:00 PM
A Ramos (ESP) vs [WC] J Blake (USA) – ATP
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
X Malisse (BEL) vs  K Nishikori (JPN) – ATP
 A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  T Haas (GER) – ATP
 K Anderson (RSA) vs  J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
Not Before 5:00 PM
 R Vinci (ITA) vs  C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs M Cilic (CRO) / L Dlouhy (CZE) – ATP
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Tomic Tank Engine Title; Radwanska Bakes Bagels; Tennis-X Notes
Djokovic Opens Rome Title Defense; Birthday Boy Murray, Serena, Sharapova Also In Action Tuesday
Federer, Nadal in Action Next Week: ATP/WTA Previews
Haas Has More Juice in Beating Simon; Sharapova Wins at Sony Miami