Defending champion Andy Murray got off to a shaky start Friday night at the Sony Open in Miami. Murray, who is no longer with star coach Ivan Lendl, dropped the first set before rallying to beat Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 in the second round.
Murray’s fellow former champions Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were also winning, both in straight sets.
Federer eased past the dangerous Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 dropping just one point on serve in the first set.
“It’s just uncomfortable at times when it comes to the crunch of the sets and you know this is probably your only chance in the set,” said Federer. “So it can be quite difficult or overwhelming. But if you’re in the right mindset mentally, it can also be enjoyable. That’s how I approach the match, anyway.”
Djokovic out-gunned Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-3. The Serb is coming off a big Indian Wells title win on Sunday.
“It’s obviously different conditions that I’m playing in here in Miami [compared to] from Indian Wells,” said Djokovic. “So that’s why the first matches are always tricky.”
David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet were other top winners.
In the women’s draw, former champion Venus Williams advanced into the third round. Indian Wells finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens were also winners.
“I’ve been working hard on my game,” Venus said. “I had some tough losses where I just wasn’t able to kind of turn around. But they were always really close, and I kept putting myself in good positions to win matches. So I just started crossing over the line in Dubai – even the week before, I basically won the match but lost it somehow. I learned a lot from that one, too, and just kind of kept coming up.
“And I’ve been working hard since Dubai. I feel really confident in every situation on the court.”
American Varvara Lepchenko had the upset of the day shocking Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6. The Serb was up a set and 2-0 before Lepchenko roared back to take the set and lead 5-1 in the third.
Then it was Jankovic’s turn to mount the comeback, but her bid fell just short in the tiebreaker.
Also, Indian Wells semifinalist Simona Halep had to withdraw because of a toe injury.
Today, Rafael Nadal opens his bid for a first Miami title against former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt. Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka is also on court along with John Isner and Tomas Berdych.
“I would love to win here any year,” said Nadal. “When I am playing a tournament, I always try my best in every one. So when I go on court, I try my best in every tournament, in every match. I gonna do it the same here.
“Hopefully I will have a good few days,” he added. “Never is easy the first round, especially when you play an opponent like Lleyton, and especially when he already played a match, so it will be tough battle.
I need to be very competitive. I need to be ready. I hope I will be, you know, but we will see.”
Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur are the marquee for the women.
MIAMI SATURDAY SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
ATP –  S Wawrinka (SUI) vs D Gimeno-Traver (ESP)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA –  S Williams (USA) vs C Garcia (FRA)
ATP –  J Isner (USA) vs D Young (USA)
Not Before 4:30 pm
WTA –  M Sharapova (RUS) vs  L Safarova (CZE)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP –  R Nadal (ESP) vs L Hewitt (AUS)
Not Before 9:30 pm
WTA – [Q] C Vandeweghe (USA) vs  S Stosur (AUS)
Also Check Out:
Roger Federer Trades His Tennis Racquet For A Violin [Video]
Poll: How Many Matches Will Rafael Nadal Lose This European Clay Season?
Andy Murray Puts Floyd Mayweather As The Favorite Over Manny Pacquiao [Video]
Miami Draw: Hot Federer Could Collide With Djokovic in SFs, Nadal Seeded To Meet Murray
Novak Djokovic Believes He Can Win The Calendar Year Grand Slam!