Prodigy Nadal Shocks Federer at ATP Masters Series-Miami

Posted on March 30, 2004

While his fellow players know he is a tough customer on clay, they thought they would get a respite from Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal during the U.S. spring hardcourt season. They were proven wrong Sunday night at Miami when the teenaged Nadal swept through world No. 1 Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3 in their first meeting.

"He hit some really incredible shots, and that's what youngsters do," Federer said. "I've heard a lot about him and saw some of his matches, so this is not a big surprise."

It was the continuation of an earlier problem for Federer, who survived a bad case of the shanks in a three-set opening win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko. The Swiss was hindered earlier in the week by the flu, which looks to be lingering. Through almost three months of play on the ATP tour, it was only the second loss for Federer on the year. This is the 17-year-old Nadal's first appearance at Miami.

Another shock exit was made by former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who has already won two small titles on the year but has consistently failed to produce at the big events. The Aussie bowed in straight sets to Andrei Pavel, who himself won a Masters Series hardcourt title in 2001 in Montreal. Hewitt chucked in 10 doubles faults, including a double on match point.

"I didn't quite take my opportunities when they came and didn't serve well in patches," Hewitt said. "Served a lot of double faults. I just felt like I had opportunities early in the first set and wasn't able to capitalize on them and then the same in the second set. He's the kind of guy who plays a lot better when he's a frontrunner, when he's got his head up and he's hitting the ball well. He's a sweet hitter of the ball as well. So his whole game got better and better, and it got tougher for me to get myself into the match from then on."

Other winners on the day were (3)Guillermo Coria (d. (25)Chela in an all-Argentine three-setter), (12)Sebastien Grosjean (d. Ascione in an all-French three-setter), (21)Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez (d. (14)Novak), resurgent German Nicolas Kiefer (d. Ginepri in three), French qualifier Julien Benneteau (d. Ljubicic), and U.S. veteran Todd Martin (d. Jurgen "Tuna" Melzer).

On court Monday in Miami are (4)Agassi vs. (28)Max "The Beast" Mirnyi (Agassi leads meetings 2-0), (5)Moya vs. (27)Dominik "The Dominator" Hrbaty (Moya leads 5-1), (2)Roddick vs. service-return nemesis (26)Bjorkman (tied 2-2), (20)Calleri vs. (WC)Reid, (31)Spadea vs. Stepanek, (9)Srichaphan vs. (Q)Monaco, Canas vs. Malisse, (19)Robredo vs. (Q)Hernych, and in an all-American doubles match-up, (1)Bryan brothers vs. former NCAA champ Amer Delic and Todd Martin.

Sparkly Serena Sputters Through, Chunky Capriati Crashes at Miami

Serena Williams, subjecting fans to Day Two of her Nike Greek Goddess get-up, struggled through her third round match Sunday at Miami with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over No. 31 seed Elena Likhovtseva. While the game looked rusty, the outfit, designed by Serena and sponsor Nike, featured a tight gold corset around the waste, with a silky flowing skirt and top reminiscent of Grecian times.

Oh, and if there was any confusion among fans, she sported a white headband with "Serena" across the front in miniature gems.

"I never felt as if I was going to lose," said the self-assured Serena, who looked nowhere near her form when she reigned atop the WTA Rankings. "I just felt...when was I going to win?"

The Russian Likhovtseva had her chances, but in the end it was just another player choking before the Serena Shrine of silk, gemstones, muscles and steely glances.

"It's Serena. It's center court," the Russian said. "When you think that you can win, then sometimes it overwhelms you, you know?"

At one point Serena lunged for a volley and missed, seemingly scraping her hand with a potentially match-stopping injury, but fans needn't worry.

"I was angry because I broke my nail," Williams said. "I just got a manicure, so I was pretty upset."

Even more upset, or disappointed, was No. 4 seed Jennifer Capriati, who fell easily to No. 25 seed Eleni Daniilidou 6-2, 6-4.

"I just -- I don't think I was there today," Capriati said. "I just felt like I was off."

Capriati looked sluggish, perhaps due to her recent back injury, or perhaps due to the pounds she's put on in her absence from the tour. Though she claims to be on a stringent training regiment, Capriati appears visibly slower around the court, and visibly -- to use the "f word" journalists avoid like the plague when covering women's tennis -- fatter, with her stomach now beating her chest to the net.

"I guess that now that without playing, you know, it's kind of -- you lose that aggressiveness." But you gain other things.

Other seeded upsets were choreographed by American Jill Craybas (d. (7)Zvonareva in three), (24)Alicia Molik (d. (11)Farina Elia in three), and (17)Maria "Grunt-o-matic" Sharapova (d. (13)Smashnova-Pistolesi). Players holding their seedings were (2)Venus (d. (27)Daniela "Feed Me" Hantuchova), (5)Elena Dementieva (d. (26)Sanchez Lorenzo), (8)Nadia Petrova (d. (32)Loit), (9)Paola Suarez (d. (18)Serna), (10)Svetlana Kuznetsova (d. Kapros in three), (12)Jelena Dokic (d. Brandi), and (15)Francesca Schiavone (d. (20)Raymond).

On court Monday are (9)Suarez vs. Craybas, (1)Serena Williams vs. (17)Sharapova, (15)Schiavone vs. (2)Venus, (25)Daniilidou vs. the teen titan Golovin, (21)Dechy vs. Dulko, (8)Petrova vs. (24)Molik, (10)Kuznetsova vs. (29)Sprem, and (5)Dementieva vs. (12)Dokic.

Mon., March 29, Tennis Channel, 12am-10am (tape)
Mon., March 29, ESPN, 1-5pm (live), 9:30-11:30pm (tape)
Tues., March 30, ESPN, 1-5pm (live)
Wed., March 31, ESPN, 1-5pm (live), ESPN2, 12:30-2:30am (tape)
Thurs., April 1, ESPN, 1-5pm (live), ESPN2, 11pm-1a, (tape), 12:30-2:30am (tape)
Fri., April 2, ESPN 3-5pm (live), ESPN2 7-9pm (live)
Sat., April 3, CBS, noon-2pm (live)
Sun., April 4, CBS, noon-3pm (live)
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