Djokovic, Del Potro Open Play Friday In Miami; Shapovalov Avoids Choke
by Staff | March 23rd, 2018, 9:17 am

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic resumes his comeback this afternoon at Miami. The former No. 1 who had a rough go at Indian Wells losing meekly to qualifier Taro Daniel, hopes Miami offers more success.

“I’m not yet at my best but I’m working to get there,” Djokovic said Tuesday. “Every day is a process for me and is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to get better. Obviously the two years of an injury and trying to figure out ways how to play pain-free, which I wasn’t able to a lot of times in the last couple years, were compromising my game,” Djokovic said.

The Serb takes on the talented Benoit Paire. Djokovic has won 16 straight matches in Miami and has won his last 21 against Frenchmen. And, he says, the elbow is feeling better.

“The last few days have been the first days in long, long time that I could actually focus on the game rather than have something in my mind always worried whether I’m going to have pain or not, and usually it happened,” Djokovic added. “It’s quite refreshing because everything else was pain involved.”

In the evening, the surging Indian Wells champion Juan Martin del Potro takes the court against Dutchman Robin Haase. Del Potro has won his last 11 matches.

“I’m not thinking too much. I’m just enjoying the moment that I am living,” Del Potro said. “I know what I have been through to get to this time and this place and this ranking. I am still calm… It will be my fourth tournament in a row. I’m tired, and mentally and physically it’s not easy to deal with all of these emotions.

“But then I will have a break, I will see what tournament we play on clay, because my body feels that surface, and I want to stay healthy during the whole season. That’s my biggest goal.”

Seeds Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Hyeon Chung are also in action.

Yesterday, as the first round wrapped up, Thanasi Kokkinakis set a Saturday date with Roger Federer after pounding Calvin Hemery 6-1, 6-2.

Canadian phenom Denis Shapovalov survived a 5-1 third set collapse to beat Viktor Troicki and save a match point in a 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) win.

Frances Tiafoe beat Nicolas Kicker, Daniil Medvedev knocked out Stefanos Tsitsipas and Yoshihito Nishioka upended Alex De Minaur. Spaniard Nicola Kuhn, who just turned 18, earned his first career ATP level match ousting Darian King. In doing so, he becomes the youngest Spaniard to win an ATP match since a 17-year-old Rafael Nadal beat Richard Gasquet at 2004 Estoril.

STADIUM start 11:00 am
WTA – N. Osaka (JPN) vs [4] E. Svitolina (UKR)

Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – P. Herbert (FRA) vs [2] M. Cilic (CRO)
ATP – B. Paire (FRA) vs [9] N. Djokovic (SRB)

Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA – [8] V. Williams (USA) vs [Q] N. Vikhlyantseva (RUS)

8:00 pm
ATP – [5] J. Del Potro (ARG) vs R. Haase (NED)

Not Before 9:30 pm
WTA – M. Puig (PUR) vs [2] C. Wozniacki (DEN)

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32 Comments for Djokovic, Del Potro Open Play Friday In Miami; Shapovalov Avoids Choke

Van Persie Says:

Djoko not much different from IW.

fred stone Says:

Paire takes 1st set against Djoker 6-3.
Paire’s on his B game and Novak looks spent.
He said he was ready??

Van Persie Says:

He plays with fear

Van Persie Says:

No surprise for me here. Monte Carlo next.

Congrats Benoit!

Markus Says:

Paging Kimberly. Did you see Djokovic in practice or in his doubles match? Did he look physically fit?

Markus Says:

Why do I think the Miami Open is boring?

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Markus, its just starting. Wait till Monday!

the_mind_reels Says:

This loss seems like a bigger red flag for Djokovic than the one to Daniel, in part because Djokovic said he was feeling better but also because Paire definitely looked like he was still playing some of that C+/B- game from his first round against Zverev. (<– Did anyone else see that very, very strange match?)

Novak needs to find a new drawing board to go back to 'cos the current one isn't working. I agree with VP that he's playing with fear. His balls have no sting on them, and he looks off-balance half the time on his forehand. I know — much easier said than done, but this guy, we all know, clearly has the talent within himself somewhere.

Kimberly Says:

I saw the match live. He looked like he didn’t want to be here. When he broke back in the second it was coincidence no effort no energy. Flat.

Watching Venus now

Willow Says:

Cant belive he lost this early ….

Willow Says:

^ Believe ^ ….

chofer Says:


I said here Novak’s “issues” are more mental now than physical. It’s not easy to come back after surgery. No matter how hard you train. The fear is there. I really hope he got steam for the claycourt swing. He’s one of the few who up the ante for men’s tennis.

As a Delpo fan, I can relate. There will be days when he’s “flat”. Another one when he will play close. A Big Win (against some other member of the Big 4 could surely help) But, most of all, is lack of confidence. He needs to get along with bad loses. Not easy.

j-kath Says:

Perhaps Novak should play more doubles (even if he loses like today) – would at least begin to re-introduce him to playing matches regularly and an opportunity to build confidence in his ability….which is what he evidently needs.

Willow Says:

He seems to have lost that aura of invincibility, the other guys on tour dont feel as intimidated by him anymore, time will tell if this is a mere blip ….

chofer Says:

The more I think about how great players suffer coming back from injuries, major or minor (Novak, Rafa) the more I’m convinced Federer is an alien. Perhaps, for aggresive players, who built their tennis on the second, or third shot, it’s easier. I’m thinking of Sampras final rush to his last Slam. Totally out of nowhere.

By the way, for those here waiting for Andy’s come back (Margot!) be very zen-like. You could try a lot of patience.

skeezer Says:

Actually a good idea! However, according to Kimberly’s report he looked like he didn’t want to be there. Don’t know how doubles will help that…

Kimberly Says:

Just returned so I can give a more detailed report of todays activities.

We arrived and decided to watch some doubles since I have been playing more and more dubs watched Mannarino/medvvedev v bopanna and roger-vasselin. Extremely entertaining points but so much of the strategy and court positioning is different than how ladies league even high level is played since nobody is serving 120 plus mph.

Missed GOffin match as it was too fast. Went to see Kvitova. Like Azarenka she has lost a lot of weight. she seemed similar to the petra we know, a lot of winners, a lot of errros.

After Kvitova we went to see Djokovic. when I saw him practicing with verdasco I thought his shots looked like they lacked power, the timing on his serve off, the timing on the return off but you never know how practice and a match are different. In the doubles yesterday he was picked on at net, but seemed to be returning well but again, I felt his counter punching game lacked the power really needed to succeed in doubles.

The first six points of the match today I thought, hes back. He seemed to form that defensive wall. Then Paire hit a few droppers, mixed up the ball, hit a few big serves and it was essentially over. Djokovic shot lacked power so Paire could repeatedly step in the court and either rip the ball or hit droppers. The serve was too slow so he couldn’t take offense. the second serve even worse. The return had a few of the old magic but a lot of failure to return serves in the 120s. But worst of all he didn’t want to be there. No positive body language nor competitive fire.

He lost the first set with two breaks. The second set he went down a break and the break back was coincidental. Paire played a few sloppy points. But Novak did not seem energized to get the break back because he really looked like he did not want to be on the court. In the last game when he served to stay in the match after the first point I could tell he wasn’t going to fight. And he didn’t. It looked like he might have even played an out ball down match point but he didn’t care. He was done. Ive never been a fan of his but it was odd. The old Djokovic down 3-6 4-5 and you still gave him over a 70 percent chance of winning the match! the crowd was trying to pump him up but he wasn’t having it.

So the match was short so went to watch Donaldson Lopez a little and Chung Ebden. Then returned to watch Venus. Richard Williams was there and the crowd was firmly behind Venus. Every point and game was soooo long. Not sure why Venus didn’t come to net more but both players stayed back and ripped basline balls corner to corner. THe match was entertaining and Venus danced for the crowd afterwards.

Then we headed home. My husband and his friends there watching Del Potro. We come home to rest for tomorrow as its the biggest day of the tournament and of course, our chance to see Federer.

On a side note, Djokovic did sign just a few balls on his way out and Colins was one of them. And Eugenie Bouchard who lost in qualies, was still there practicing for dubs with Sloane stephens and took a selfie with him.

Markus Says:

Thank you, Kimberly. You’re report on Djokovic is the best report I’ve read about him in this tournament. I felt everything you wanted to convey. I’m not a Djokovic fan either but it is disheartening nevertheless that one of the best in the game could be seen playing like this.

Markus Says:

I thought of Andy while watching Djokovic. It wasn”t a very positive thought. I didn’t think of Nadal because he is a phoenix.

Daniel Says:

Very surprised by this result. Wasn’t able watch any matches today. Seems is more mental now. So many months dealing with injury and afraid f it affect his mindset.

He has to win a match pretty soon.Don;t want him to pull out a Coria.

Margot Says:

Nole showing how hard it is to come back after a break following an operation/injury. He looked dispirited and his serve was awful. I have no expectation of Andy’s return whatsoever.

AndyMira Says:

I hope Rafa voluntarily seek Nole[or vice versa] & give a few tips regarding one can give a better advice than Rafa..It’s hard to see a great champion struggle like this..Deja vu of painful 2015 came to mind…

j-kath Says:

Taa Skeezer – I suppose my thoughts had been based on an invalid slowly re-establishing previous levels of fitness. But, as Kimberely says “no positive body language” rather indicates that Nole’s problems are deeply mental.

It may be totally different for Andy…yes, as Margot indicates, expectations are not too high – but doubt he’ll demonstrate the same disinterest and mental attitude shown by Nole. We’ll see what Andy does at Queens – by then maybe we’ll also see a more positive Nole.

Willow Says:

Novak usually does well on clay, made at least the semis every year since 2011, maybe thats the part of the season he will shine, having said that Rafa obviously, Stan, Thiem are also great CC players too, and have all beaten him at RG, so who knows ….

Markus Says:

TV, I watched the Djokovic match which did not help. It looks like the players are all tired, bored and disinterested. I will take a break and tune in again on Monday. I hope you are right.

Van Persie Says:

Djoko should adopt Andy’s strategy: challenger tournaments first or Thiem’s from the past: a few 250 without break, until he’s in better shape. To play each 2-3 weeks one match at a master and lose, will not help.

j-kath Says:

Seems like DelPotro is having a word with himself – needing a boost in energy for his next match…

Czarlazar Says:

Novak’s problems are many but a good place to start is at the dining room table: ditch the seeds and plants and bring on the chicken, steak and seafood. The man has no energy because he’s 10 kg underweight!

Margot Says:

VP: it’s difficult to gauge whether Nole was dispirited because his serve clearly was off, or whether his serve was off because he was dispirited. But my guess is the former. And of course he may have been in pain, another reason to be dejected.

skeezer Says:

Injuries have a way of humbling your competitiveness. You feel invincible, when you are on top and playing with no pain. You don’t even think for a second your body will not follow along with your mind in all directions, all decisions. But then, when injury strikes, your body says, “no, can’t do that”. Where it strikes the most is your confidence. And that is everything in tennis.

Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer 12:23………:So true……

Van Persie Says:


He told he played without pain during this tournament, did read somewhere. Who knows? But agree, serve was off…and he looked rusty after the 1 point already.

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