Djokovic fends off Dolgopolov challenge on Tuesday @MiamiOpenTennis (Miami Open Day 8 Recap)
Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
The men’s round of 16 sorted itself out on Tuesday as Novak Djokovic was biggest the story. The world number 1 was a set and a break down, facing more break points in the second set, but came to fend off a tough challenge from Alex Dolgopolov. Besides that match, Milos Raonic and Venus Williams
were upset, and Dominic Thiem reached his first ever Masters level quarterfinal.
Novak Djokovic d. Alex Dolgopolov 6-7(3) 7-5 6-0
The world #1 has not exactly had a smooth ride to get to the 4th round in Miami, dropping a set to Martin Klizan and having to fend off a Steve Darcis comeback effort. It wouldn’t get smoother for the Serb today as he faced an opponent that has taken a set from him 3 out of their last 4 meetings. That opponent, the Ukranian Alexander Dolgopolov is coming off 2 tight wins against veteran Tommy Robredo and a Miami crowd favorite Thomaz Bellucci. Alex has put up good fights against the world #1 in the past and today would be no different.
Dolgo came out absolutely firing on all cylinders to start off the 1st set. The talented shotmaker was taking the ball on the rise and taking time away from Djokovic in the rallies, clearly frustrating him. Meanwhile Novak was out of sorts, being impatient, and easily frustrated out on center court.Alex took an early 4-1 lead in the 1st, which included Djokovic smashing his racket to the chorus of boos from the Miami crowd. The Serb would also be cited for a couple of code violations which cost him a point penalty. However despite the mental battle the Serb was fighting he would come back to even things up at 5-5 and eventually force a tiebreak. It seemed that Novak had righted the ship and was on his way to assume control, however the Ukrainian had something to say about it. The tiebreak began with a little help from the netcord for Alex to get the minibreak right off the bat, needless to say Novak was fuming. He’d let that get to his head as he quickly fell to a 0-4 hole in the TB. Dolgo wouldn’t look back as he kept his calm to take the TB 7-3 and yet again for the 4th time in 5 meetings take a set from the Serb.
The 2nd set began with Alex holding with ease, Novak still looked completely dejected on the court. It would carry on to his service game as Dolgo riped an inside out forehand to set up triple break point. On the 3rd attempt the Ukranian would smoke a DTL backhand return winner to go up 2-0 and really put Novak on the ropes. Despite Novak not playing his best, Dolgo had a lot to do with it as he played lights out tennis, he brimmed with confidence. The Ukrainian is known to have the tendency to display top 10 and below top 100 level simultaneously in the same match.
Top 10 Dolgo was on full force so far as he went up 3-0 in the 2nd. The next game would prove to be a pivotal point of the match. Dolgo continued to simply out-groudstroke Novak to set up a double breakpoint, an opportunity to go up a double break and tighten his grip on the match. However after a marathon of a rally Novak would come out on top to save the 2nd breakpoint, followed by a couple of UEs from Alex to hold and avoid going down 0-4. The Miami crowd could feel a hint of the tide turning. Alex would stumble the next game falling 0-30 but eventually regain his composure and hold to maintain the single break lead at 4-1. That tough hold seemed to get Novak’s mind back into the match as he produced sharper groundstrokes pinning Dolgo deep. Preventing Dolgo from getting superior court position would work as Novak finally broke to even things up at 4-4. Dolgo would elevate his level once more with some incredible shotmaking, he’d rip multiple winners on both sides of the court to hold, not easy to do against Djokovic especially on these courts. At 4-5 Nole would show his composure as he successfully held to stay in the match. Dolgo would then play a horrible service game to get broken followed by a Novak hold to take the 2nd. It seemed like Dolgo might’ve gotten hurt, the trainer would come out to tape his feet. It was unclear what sort of injury it was exactly but it seemed to be affecting his ankle. It would sadly prove to be the virtual end to the match as the Ukranian won only 3 points out of the next 27, practically immobile out there, losing the deciding set 0-6. Djokovic had successfully escaped another dicey match 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-0.
The Serb was available at the post-match press conference to reflection the bumpy start to the Miami Open and also weigh in on approaching Rafa’s 141 consecutive weeks at #1
Murray, Nishikori advance, Isner upsets Raonic, Suarez Navarro shocks Venus
Andy Murray scored his 500th career ATP Main Draw win with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 result over Kevin Anderson, Murray continued his solid season thus far, as he put up a positive winner/unforced error ratio and returned incredibly well in the third set when it counted against the big serving South African.
Kei Nishikori was better in every department compared to David Goffin as that match was a 6-1 6-2 blowout. The Japanese #1 has not been challenged all tournament.
John Isner upset Milos Raonic 6-7(3) 7-6(6) 7-6(5) in as many tiebreaks as were to be expected, both players served well and Isner continued the trend of being clutch when it matters, as he won the final two tiebreaks to win the match from a set down.
Fernando Verdasco posted 34 errors, and wasted a break lead in the second set to fall to Juan Monaco 6-3 6-3. Young gun Dominic Thiem posted his best result of the season, and his best ever masters result with a 7-6 4-6 7-5 win in a nailbiter over Adrian Mannarino. Thiem was down a break in the third and came back against a solid Mannarino. His backhand proving to be an effective weapon.
Tomas Berdych won over Gael Monfils fell and injured himself 6-3 3-2 ret. and David Ferrer beat a listless Gilles Simon 7-6 6-0.
Andrea Petkovic dominated Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-2 and Carla Suarez Navarro upset Venus Williasm 0-6 6-1 7-5 in a remarkable comeback after a bagel, as they both reached the semifinals.
Babos/Mladenovic, Hingis/Mirza and Niculescu/Panova won in doubles, as did Pospisil/Sock, and Melo/Soares.