Thiem, Querrey regain form with round 1 wins at Miami Open (Day 2 Recap)
Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
The first round of the men’s main draw at the 2015 Miami Open presented by Itau, got underway from the Crandon Park Tennis center in Key Biscayne, a suburb of Miami, and our journalist Esam Taha was there for action, as both Dominic Thiem, and Sam Querrey regained form and scored round 1 wins in the evening session. In addition, lots of matches took place on the WTA round 1 main draw side as well.
Dominic Thiem d. Diego Sebastian Schwartzman 7-6(0) 7-5
It’s fair to say that’s Dominic’s start this year has been somewhat underwhelming, he can’t afford many more early exits if he plans to live up to the hype that has been surrounding him at just 21 years of age. Today he played another young player in Diego Schwartzman (22), who is steadily moving up the rankings himself. The match took place in the Grandstand under a hot Miami sun. Both players struggled to hold serve in the 1st set as they broke each other 3 times. Thiem has the more dangerous serve but he struggled to get his 1st serve in, registering only 57% in the 1st set. Schwartzman while never known to have the most comfortable service games, was making up for it by always putting pressure on Dominic’s service games with aggressive ground strokes. The crowd, with a strong South American flavor, was pro-Diego, but he didn’t seem to be able to take full advantage of it, barely engaging them and showing little body language. Fans of the Austrian by contrast were far and few between.
Despite the struggles with his serve, Dominic had a chance to serve out the set at 5-4 but once again couldn’t find his first serve and DSS took full advantage. The set would go on to a tie break, where Thiem went after DSS with some overpowering forehands before eventually closing out the clean tiebreak with a rare ace.
It seemed that Dominic had all the momentum at that point and would power through DSS, however that was far from reality. The sun started to set and scorching heat subsided as the two youngsters started the 2nd. Schwartzman didn’t seem to lose belief after dropping the first set meekly, as he broke Dominic twice and jumped to an early 3-0 lead. Thiem was careless in those 1st 3 games but he gathered himself during the changeover and proceeded to string together 4 games to get back even on serve in a rollercoaster of a second set. Thiem was helped by DSS serving a measly 47% on his 1st serve. Meanwhile Dominic was starting to find his rhythm on serve, getting a lot of free points and registering 4 aces in the 2nd. Dominic serving first would eventually pay off, the pressure of serving to stay in the match would get to Schwartzman. Down 5-6 and looking to force a tiebreak, Diego would hit an unforced error on matchpoint. Thiem reacted with a confident fist pump as he escaped a tricky 1st round matchup, where his opponent outplayed him for considerable periods in the match. He’ll go on to face a tough opponent in Feliciano Lopez next round. Thiem will be bidding to win consecutive matches in a tournament for just the second time this season.
Sam Querrey d. Victor Estrella 6-4 6-3
Coming off 2 consecutive first round exits, Sam Querrey was hoping to quickly make amends in Miami, and return to the form that had granted him a semifinal showing in Memphis, about a month ago on US soil. His first match was against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos, who surprised everyone by winning ATP Quito, Ecuador by beating Feliciano Lopez in the final on clay back in February. The 34 year old is peaking late as his ranking has continued to climb well into the top 100 the past 2 years, currently sitting just outside the top 50 at 55th overall.
The match started off the night session with both players comfortably holding serve, but it was clear right away that Victor was going to have home court advantage here in Miami as the Dominican crowd made their presence felt early.
The set seemed to be on fast forward as both players were playing aggressively and looking to quickly end the point, however it was clear that was Sam was much more comfortable holding serve as evidenced by his 7 aces in the first set. Victor had to save a double breakpoint midway through the first set to keep it even, and struggling to hold serve would be the theme throughout the rest of the night. Eventually Victor would bend…and actually break as Querrey finally converted his 4th break opportunity on set point to claim the 1st set.
The 2nd set got off to a shaky start for Victor, who needed every bit of the crowd cheering him on to recover from a 0-30 hole and avoid getting broken early. However his efforts would prove futile as Sam would break him the next service game while the latter continued to hold serve with ease. Querrey hit 9 aces in the 2nd set and only faced a single break point the entire match. The 2nd set was fairly routine for the American. Victor would make some noise as Sam was serving to close out the match taking him to deuce to the delight of the crowd, but a couple of big serves from Querrey and it was all over. It was quite the contrast between the mellow and nearly silent Querrey, moving like a gazelle on his returns, and the loud and undersized Estrella, who was practically screaming as he chased down the ball.
Sam will go on to face the big serving South African, Kevin Anderson in the 2nd round.
In the interim of those matches, a few of the top players were getting on the practice courts to get a feel for that nice Miami sun and the court conditions, Alexander Dolgopolov was one of the guys that seemed to enjoy it out there.
18 year old Chung’s maiden ATP win and a perfect sweep for American Men Headline ATP Maindraw Day 1 Results
18 year old South Korean Hyeon Chung took full advantage of his wild card and scored both his maiden ATP, and his maiden ATP Masters level main draw win today over Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers, who is rarely an easy out. Chung, who has built up his ranking near the top 100 purely due to strong results on the Challenger and Futures tour, including a challenger title and final this year already, got off to a strong start, blanking Granollers 6-0 in the opening set. Granollers proved he wasn’t ill or injured by responding in the second, forcing a much closer contest, and scoring a lone break midway 3-2 through set, to end up taking it 6-4, as Chung failed to generate any chances to break back. In the third the match became quite the battle, but Chung didn’t wilt in the slightest against the grinding Spaniard. He got an immediate break back after going 2-1 down in the third, saved another break point at 3-3 to hold serve, and broke in a game that lasted over 8 minutes for a 6-4 third set victory. Granollers got tight in the end, as errors mounted, and his serve and forehand was simply not good enough, compared to the young Korean’s raw, but powerful groundstrokes that were able to push the Spaniard back.
Americans Donald Young, Jack Sock, Tim Smyczek, and Austin Krajicek, a qualifier, were all winners and advanced into the second round, making it a perfect day for the American male contingent. Young beat Rendy Lu 5-1 via a retirement, as Lu was in poor shape going into the match, Sock rolled past Go Soeda 6-3 6-4, Smyczek had to survive qualifier Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, who was bidding for his maiden ATP main draw win at 29, 4-6 6-3 6-4, with a late break in the third set, and a hold of serve to close it out, and Krajicek got revenge over Denis Istomin, who he lost to previously in Indian Wells with a swift 6-4 6-4 victory.
Another men’s singles winner on the day was Juan Monaco, who survived multiple mentally induced collapses against Ruben Bemelmans, a qualifier, to prevail 7-5 6-7 6-4 on his fourth match point chance, and his second of the third set. What saved Monaco was the fact his opponent Bemelmans was even more fragile in the mental department than he was, throwing up tense errors when it counted in the third set, as Monaco threw away his chance to close out the match in straights.
Young guns Kyle Edmund and Thanasi Kokkinakis were denied further Masters level victories, Robin Haase and Carlos Berlocq took them out, 6-2 6-2 for Haase, and 6-4 3-6 6-2 for Berlocq. Kokkinakis, who was coming off a round of 16 showing in Indian Wells, had high expectations going into this tournament, but got off to a slow start, perhaps struggling to adjust to new conditions, and never really seemed to recover in his match.
Jan-Lennard Struff saved match points to take out Benjamin Becker 3-6 7-6(10) 6-4, the Davis Cup teammates battled it out for over two hours as Becker had three match points in the second set tiebreak, and was at one point 4-1 up in the third set, but Struff would battle back each time, converting his lone match point opportunity to break serve and finish the match off 6-4.
Nicolas Almagro, similar to Monaco avoided a mental collapse in a match he appeared to have in the bag, the final scoreline over Sergiy Stakhovsky was 6-3 6-7 6-4, but Almagro was at one point 6-3 3-1 up. Stakhovsky employed an aggressive gameplan throughout, but Almagro’s compact strokes and great passing backhands proved to be an effective foil for it, as he was returning the ball before the Ukrainian had time to properly react.
In men’s action on the outer courts, Albert Ramos won yet again on a hard court, 6-2 6-2 over Joao Sousa, dashing Portugese hopes this tournament, Jarkko Nieminen scored a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over Marinko Matosevic, James Duckworth did better than his Aussie countryman and beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 3-6 6-3, and fellow qualifier Filip Krajinovic got the better of his Serbian compatriot Dusan Lajovic 2-6 7-6 4-2 ret. as Lajovic came down with an arm injury.
Watson, Vaidisova, Azarenka among WTA singles winners on the day
British hope Heather Watson got past Evgeniya Rodina, the world number 96 3-6 6-1 7-5, as she saved 10/14 of the break points she faced, and nearly half of the points on Rodina’s serve.
25 year old Nicole Vaidsova of the Czech Republic continued her comeback on the WTA tour, the former Top 10 player won her first WTA level main draw match, in just her second WTA tournament since returning to tennis in 2014 after a four year absence. Vaidsova, who qualified in Monterrey recently, won 6-1 7-6 over the world number 87 Timea Babos, as her ranking will now surely rise back into the top 300.
Victoria Azarenka, who is looking to complete her own mini comeback, and surely get back into the top 20 in the world, got off to a good start in Miami with a 6-1 6-3 win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa. Other participants in the second round will include four Americans, as Christina McHale beat Sorana Cirstea 7-5 6-4, qualifier Irina Falconi beat Monica Puig 7-6 7-6, Alison Riske beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-4 6-0 in less than an hour, and in the nightcap, Sloane Stephens dominated Yania Wickmayer 6-1 6-3, winning 70% of her service points, compared to just 45% for the Belgian.
Daria Gavrilova setup a meeting with Maria Sharapova, a fellow Russian, in round 2 as she beat Marina Erakovic 5-1 ret., Germans Annika Beck (6-4 4-6 6-4 over Shuai Zhang), Tatjana Maria (7-6 6-3 over Roberta Vinci), and Julia Goerges (6-1 6-0 over Jana Cepelova) will also be participating in round 2. American Lauren Davis continued her struggles with a loss to Sesil Karatantcheva 6-3 7-6, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat her countrywoman Vera Zvonareva 6-2 3-6 7-5 in a battle that lasted over two hours, with the 23 year old Pavs outlasting an opponent seven years her senior.
Alison Van Uytvanck added to the success of qualifiers wth a 7-5 2-6 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova, Pauline Parmentier beat Kiki Bertens 4-6 6-2 6-3, Urszula Radwanska setup a meeting with Venus Williams with a 6-4 6-7 6-3 win over CoCo Vandeweghe, and Swiss Stefanie Voegele beat junkballer Kirsten Flipkens 6-2 6-2
Wonderkid Belinda Bencic beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-1 7-6, and Elina Vesnina (6-4 6-2 over Alexandra Dulgheru) and Tsvetana Pironkova (6-4 6-3 over Kateryna Kozlova) were two of the players who did have success over their qualifier opponents.