Novak Djokovic’s recent downward spiral continued Friday in Miami, one of his favorite events. The Serb had won six titles overall at the event and 16 in a row that is until he ran into Frenchman Benoit Paire., falling 6-4, 6-3 in just 67 minutes.
Djokovic, who suffered a horrible loss at Indian Wells to qualifier Taro Daniel, looked better early on but then fell apart once again, spraying errors and looking unsteady and imbalanced on the court.
In the second set, Djokovic showed some signs of life, overcoming a 4-2 deficit. But serving 4-5 to stay in hit he was broken at love as Djokovic couldn’t even get out of his own way on match point.
“I’m trying, but it’s not working,” Djokovic said of his recent losses. “Obviously I’m not feeling great when I’m playing this way. Of course I want to be able to play as well as I want. Just it’s impossible at the moment. That’s all.
“It happened very fast,” Djokovic added. “I’m just in general trying everything I can. I’m not at the level that I used to be. I’m aware of that. I just have to obviously believe in myself, and hopefully it will come.”
For the first time since 2007 Djokovic has lost three straight matches. The former No. 1 will now contemplate his clay season. It was his second match since his elbow procedure in February.
While Djokovic in going the wrong way, Juan Martin del Potro continues to head in the right direction. The Argentine kept on his roll dispatching Robin Haase 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 to up his win streak to 12. Though del Potro says he needs to get better.
“It was a terrible match for me even though Robin played well,” del Potro said. “It was a very difficult first match of the tournament for me. I’m still alive and that’s important. But I need to improve my tennis, my physicality and my mind if I want to go further. My body started to feel tired but I will have some time now to recover.”
Next for the Argentine on Sunday is 2016 finalist Kei Nishikori who also won in three sets beating qualifier John Millman 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
“I’m happy to win; it wasn’t an easy match,” said Nishikori who withdrew from Indian Wells with an illness. “I didn’t play the past two weeks, so I had to get used to playing points again, but in the third set I thought I played well. I am feeling very good and playing with intensity for three hours today is good for my confidence.”
Avoid his fourth straight loss, Grigor Dimitrov also advanced in three over German Maximillian Marterer. Milos Raonic, John Isner, Hyeon Chung and Marin Cilic were also winners. Richard Gasquet lost to Jeremy Chardy and in a surprise American Michael Mmoh upset Roberto Bautista Agut.
On a busy Saturday, 3-time champion and world No. 1 Roger Federer opens play against Australian prodigy Thanasi Kokkinakis. Alexander Zverev begins the day on Stadium taking on Russian Daniil Medvedev. Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Sam Querrey and Denis Shapovalov are also in action.
SATURDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
ATP –  A. Zverev (GER) vs D. Medvedev (RUS)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA –  S. Halep (ROU) vs  A. Radwanska (POL)
ATP –  R. Federer (SUI) vs [Q] T. Kokkinakis (AUS)
Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA –  A. Kerber (GER) vs  A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP –  N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs D. Lajovic (SRB)
Not Before 9:30 pm
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) vs C. Mchale (USA)
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