Playing in his first match in Miami in two years, Rafael Nadal routed former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-3 last night in the second round at the Sony Open.
“It’s great for me to be back after not playing since 2012. I really enjoy it here,” Nadal said. “There was no better way to start my return than with a win like this.”
Nadal, who has never won the Miami title reaching the final three times, advances to meet Denis Istomin on Monday.
Nadal’s match was the only straight set affair on a long Stadium schedule that featured five contests going three sets, including the finale with Coco Vandeweghe knocking out Sam Stosur 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 at 2:30am.
Earlier, the American men fell hard again. While John Isner survived a spirited effort from Donald Young in three sets, Ryan Harrison, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock all lost leaving the 6-foot-10 former Georgia star the only American man into the third round for the second tournament in a row.
Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych were also winners as was Roberto Bautista Agut who continued Jerzy Janowicz’s slump.
In the women’s draw, former champions Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both struggled but won. Serena endured a brief rain delay then finally put away pesky 20-year-old Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
“She’s obviously a really good player,” said Serena. “She plays well. Granted, she played great, but I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there too – I made so many unforced errors, I hit so short, it really isn’t the same player – I really just have to do better.”
“It was already my third time playing Serena, so maybe she was a little less intimidating than the previous times,” Garcia said. “I just tried to forget it’s Serena Williams, forget that she’s won how many Grand Slams, and just be me and just play. And I’m happy with what I did. It was a good match.
“She’s a great player and she’s always fighting a lot. I think it was a good test for me.”
In the evening Lucia Safarova gave Sharapova all that she could handle but in the end the Russian got through 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 in just under three hours.
“It was one of those days when I had all kinds of opportunities, but she just kept hitting all of these unbelievable shots and winners, especially in that last game,” Sharapova said in her on-court interview straight after the match. “I’m just so happy I was able to pull the match out in the end tonight.”
Today defending champion Andy Murray returns against Feliciano Lopez. Roger Federer is also in action as are Li Na and Sloane Stephens who faces Caroline Wozniacki.
Three-time champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to play but gained a walkover when his third round opponent Florian Mayer withdrew with a groin injury.
Djokovic celebrated the news by attending a Miami Heat game!
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) March 23, 2014
SUNDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
WTA – M Keys (USA) vs  N Li (CHN)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP –  A Murray (GBR) vs  F Lopez (ESP)
ATP –  R Federer (SUI) vs [Q] T de Bakker (NED)
WTA – [WC] C Dellacqua (AUS) vs  V Williams (USA)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA –  S Stephens (USA) vs  C Wozniacki (DEN)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP –  A Seppi (ITA) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
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Serena Williams Battles Maria Sharapova Saturday For The Miami Sony Open Title
Serena Seeks 8th Miami Title Saturday Against The Surprising Saurez Navarro
Sharapova Shrieked-Down by Azarenka in Miami Final
Serena Serves Notice! Beats Sharapova For 11th Straight Time To Win Sixth Miami Title