Isner scores lone upset at Miami Open on Monday (Day 7 Recap)
Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
The favorites on both the ATP and WTA side held true to form on Monday in Miami, with the lone upset being American John Isner’s victory over Grigor Dimitrov.
John Isner d. Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(2) 6-2
The big serving American had never faced Grigor Dimitrov before tonight, a night that would prove to be a big one for him. Isner was coming off a routine win over Andrey Rublev in the 2nd round and looking to secure a victory over the world #11. Meanwhile the Bulgarian had convincingly dismantled Vasek Pospisil a couple of days ago and looking to make amends for his early exit in Indian Wells.
Isner came out on fire blasting his first serves in at a high rate, not providing Grigor with any chance to get a beat on his serves. Both players would hold serve to kick things off, but a moment of controversy would present itself quickly on Isner’s serve. Dimitrov returned a ball that was going long but Isner gave up on the ball before the out call and therefore Bernandes would call it against John bringing up double break point. John was not happy and made that very clear to Carlos. Later John would give a more thorough explanation of what happened on that play in his post-match press conference, which can be found below. Meanwhile he’d quickly forget about the incident and win the next 4 points to hold serve. Dimitrov was keeping up with Isner but he was clearly not playing his best tennis out there, and with the crowd behind the American, Grigor was truly on the ropes.
Dimitrov was able to force a tiebreak nonetheless, but it would be a one-sided affair as Isner easily take it to close the set 7-6(2).
Dimitrov would have to change something quickly if he were to turn thing around, the Bulgarian was very rusty while John had hit his groove. At 1-1, Grigor would find himself in a 0-30 hole in a pivotal game. He was not able to bounce back, a couple of bad misses proved costly as John got the early break to take a 2-1 lead. Isner consolidated with ease, Grigor’s returns weren’t even close to landing on the court. The world #11 would then show a glimpse of why many picked him to win tonight. He would smoke a couple of aces coupled with an exquisite forehand drop to hold. However, that glimpse would be short-lived as John would find himself with another break opportunity at 2-4, a virtual match point for the American. Grigor would tighten up and proceed to gift the break to John with a double fault, summing up his disappointing performance tonight. Isner would do his part and serve out the match out to put 1 under the W column in their only head to head meeting. Isner has been markedly improved in his last two events, while Dimitrov continues to struggle this season.
Novak Djokovic d. Steve Darcis 6-0 7-5
The world #1 was coming off a tricky match against Martin Klizan in the 2nd round and looked to put in a more convincing performance against qualifier Steve Darcis in this 3rd round encounter. Darcis, clearly the underdog here, was coming off a comeback effort against Malek Jaziri in the 1st round and a tough grinder against Gilles Muller in the 2nd.
Steve wasn’t used to the spotlight of playing in the main stadium and it showed right away, as he normally plies his trade on the challenger tour. Djokovic would proceed to steamroll past the Belgian in the 1st set with a bagel to show for it. Darcis made the mistake of trying to match Djokovic in rallies and taking him head on when he’s clearly the less talented player. Darcis however would change that approach a bit in the 2nd set.
Novak held to kick things off registering his 7th straight game. Darcis would finally hold and get on the board prompting a loud cheer from the crowd. The next game brought back memories of the Klizan match as Novak would sloppily fall to deuce on his serve, but eventually hold. Steve was now engaged, keeping up as he held to tie it up at 2-2. Darcis switched his tactics in the 2nd going almost exclusively with the slice on his backhand side and it was starting to bother the Serb. The frustration would grow as Novak started making silly errors and not handling Steve’s slice very well. The Belgian would take things to 4-4, but he was hardly putting any sort of pressure on Novak’s serve, his returns were abysmal up to that point.
That would change the next game. The excessive slicing would eventually get to Novak’s head as he commited back to back uncharacteristic errors, earning Steve his first break of the match. Darcis now would get a chance to test his nerves as he walked out there to serve out a set against the #1 player in the world, no big deal. Djokovic however wasn’t too happy with himself and decided to take it out on Steve as he ripped a DTL backhand winner to seal the love break. That was as close as Steve would come to threatening the Serb. The Belgian attempted to serve to stay in the match, and would make quite a fight out of it. The ending was inevitable though as he poorly attempted a drop shot that dropped well short, putting the match to rest. Again Djokovic let up a bit after bageling his opponent, but this time, there would not be a third set.
After the match in press, Novak added his two cents on the rule changes to Davis Cup in regards to adding a fifth set tiebreak.
Meanwhile, Darcis admitted he tried his best on the day.
Raonic, Nishikori, Ferrer march into the round of 16Embed from Getty Images
The two other big names in action on the men’s side of the draw scored wins today, Milos Raonic was 6-1 5-3 up against Jeremy Chardy, as he got off to a strong start, and the Frenchman was poor, even on his own serve, much less dealing with the Manitoba missile. However, Raonic slipped up and ended up having to put up a heck of a fight to advance. Chardy broke back for 5-5 in set 2, then saved break points to hold, and in the next game, break the Canadian #1 to force a third set, to the shock of everyone on the grandstand. In that third, Raonic was under pressure in multiple service games, as he was forced to save break points at 3-4. Raonic would get it into a tiebreak by the skin of his teeth, but got an edge late in that tiebreak, and scraped his way 6-1 5-7 7-6 into the round of 16.
Kei Nishikori blitzkrieged through his second consecutive match, this time it was a 6-2 6-2 drubbing of Viktor Troicki as the Serbian #2 was hopeless from the start. Nishikori did not play well in Indian Wells, but he has really upped his game in Miami and looks capable of challenging the remaining names in the draw.
David Ferrer won 6-4 7-5 over Lukas Rosol, it was a bad matchup for the Czech, as Ferru was consistent from the ground and eventually lulled him into too many errors. Rosol put up a good fight and made it a match in set 2, but Ferrer broke in the final game of the match, on his fifth match point chance. It should be noted that Rosol had six break point chances in the first set, and failed to convert, as he simply let too much on the table against Ferrer.
Alex Dolgopolov, normally a fan favorite, dealt with a hostile crowd to send off Thomaz Bellucci 7-5 6-4. Dolgopolov went on a hot streak from late in the first set, to early in the second, and was a set and a break up. Bellucci would attempt a comeback, as he had done in previous two wins (over Hewitt and Cuevas), rather than simply giving up, but it was not to be, as Dolgo simply moved too well and was too defensively sound for the Brazilian’s ball bashing to bother him.Embed from Getty Images
David Goffin was more consistent than Jerzy Janowicz on the day winning 6-4 6-3, Goffin didn’t serve as good as he could have, but Janowicz couldn’t stick with him on the ground. Gilles Simon won an errorfest with Alejandro Falla 6-3 6-4, there were no winners after more than a dozen points into the match, and that type of stateline should demonstrate the type of match it was, as both players felt each other out, and Simon was able to bait his opponent into more errors.Embed from Getty Images
Williams sisters, Lisicki roll on
Venus and Serena Williams booked their place in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open on Monday with solid wins. Venus impressive beat Dane Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 7-6, while Serena beat the veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-3. Sabine Lisicki won her seventh match in nine tries, all at premier level as she drubbed Sara Errani 6-1 6-2. Lisicki will now have to deal with the machine that is Serena.Embed from Getty Images
Simona Halep (6-3 7-5 over Flavia Pennetta), Andrea Petkovic (6-1 7-5 over Ekaterina Makarova), Carla Suarez Navarro (5-7 6-0 6-4 over Aga Radwanska in an impressive hard court win), Karolina Pliskova (6-3 6-2 over the promising Daria Gavrilova), and Sloane Stephens (6-4 7-6 over Belinda Bencic) round out the WTA quarterfinalists in Miami.Embed from Getty Images
Pospisil/Sock beat Bolelli/Fognini again
After a win over them in the Indian Wells doubles final, Pospisil/Sock again beat Bolelli/Fognini, this time in a 6-2 6-3 blowout win. Joining them as ATP doubles quarterfinalists are Rojer/Tecau who beat Cabal/Farah 6-7 6-3 10-2 in a huge comeback win, Draganja/Kontinen who beat Bellucci/Souza 6-3 6-3 , Anderson/Chardy who dominated Almagro/Garcia-Lopez 6-1 6-2, and Melo/Soares, who kept Brazilian fans hopes alive with a 7-5 4-6 10-7 victory over Jamie Murray/Peers.Embed from Getty Images
As for the WTA doubles quarterfinalists, one spot remains to be filled but so far it’s Garcia/Srebotnik who beat Chan/Jankovic 6-1 6-3, Hradecka/Hlavackova who beat Jans-Ignacik/Klepac 6-4 6-4, and the Rodionova sisters who beat Muguraza/Suarez-Navarro 7-5 6-1.
Big servers Isner and Raonic to meet in highlighted Tuesday match
The action will focus on the men Tuesday in Miami, as just two WTA singles matches are on the docket. John Isner and Milos Raonic will clash in a match that is likely to see at least one tiebreak, both have looked good at points this tournament, but with Isner perhaps looking better, he will have a punchers chance against the Canadian number #1, who has outshone him in recent months with better results.
A clash of styles will be evident between Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych in their round of 16 meeting, Monfils is of course incredibly athletic and fleet footed, while Berdych can bludgeon the ball and has a good offensive attack. Adrian Mannarino and Dominic Thiem will meet for the first time, as it’s a great chance for both of these underdog winners to grab Masters quarterfinal level points.
Novak Djokovic will have to deal with creative shotmaker Alex Dolgopolov, who has been playing great this week, that match will be the toughest Novak has faced so far but he’s still the heavy favorite. Juan Monaco and Fernando Verdasco should delight fans, as it’s a great chance at quarterfinal points for either, Verdasco riding the momentum of a huge win over Rafael Nadal in the previous round. That matchup should feature long rallies, as will the one between grinders David Ferrer and Gilles Simon. Kei Nishikori will take on the similarly undersized but technically sound David Goffin, who is a huge underdog, and Andy Murray will have to return well against big server Kevin Anderson if he is to avoid the upset.
Pospisil/Sock, and Martina Hingis will be back in doubles action on Tuesday, and the WTA matches are Petkovic/Pliskova and Venus Williams/Suarez Navarro, so be on the lookout for those matchups.Embed from Getty Images