Djokovic edges Ferrer, Isner shocks Nishikori Miami Open Thursday Recap
Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
The two men’s quarterfinal matches on Thursday in Miami drew plenty of attention, as the world number 1 Novak Djokovic advanced, and John Isner posted his best result of the season with a huge upset over Kei Nishikori.
Novak Djokovic d. David Ferrer 7-5 7-5
The Miami crowd was treated to a heavyweight matchup in the Miami Open Quarterfinal night session. The world #1 had had quite the bumpy ride so far including a comeback effort against Dolgopolov in the previous round. Novak has won his last 7 meetings with Ferrer, his last loss dating back to the 2011 ATP WTF. The Serb was favorited going into this matchup but it wasn’t to expect to be a cakewalk especially with the way he’s been playing in Miami. Meanwhile David Ferrer hasn’t dropped a set so far in the tournament, knocking out Delbonis, Rosol, and Simon in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds respectively. Ferrer is having an excellent season so far only losing 2 matches and already with 3 titles under his belt, it was also his 33rd birthday today.
Ferrer would kick off proceedings with a solid hold, he looked focused and ready for the challenge with the way he was stroking the ball early. Meanwhile Djokovic looked a bit sloppy to start things off, quickly falling to a 0-40 hole on his serve. A double fault later and all of the sudden the Serb would find himself down a break with Ferrer serving to take a 3-0 lead. The Serb’s returns looked uncharacteristically tame on center court, putting little pressure on David’s serve. Just like that the world #1 would find himself serving out of a 0-3 hole. Novak would start to slowly get into the game as he stroked a beautiful looking DTL backhand winner to finally get on the board. Ferrer was defending with purpose, forcing Novak to hit that one extra shot. The Serb missed a volley as Ferrer held and went up 4-1. Once again, the frustration seemed to be getting the best of the defending champion, shades of the Dolgo match.
Those in the Miami crowd that enjoy long rallies and endless groundstrokes were getting their money’s worth, both players seemed content with playing from the baseline up to that point. This game became more and more crucial as it kept swinging back and forth at deuce, Ferrer looked for the double break lead while Novak looked to get even on serve. Ferrer would splendidly save a breakpoint with a slick half volley pick up to the crowd’s delight. Novak however was the slight aggressor in that game and eventually came out with break after a grueling game. He’d hold to square things up at 4-4 in the 1st. Even though Djokovic was starting to play better he was still letting frustration get to him as he let out a rather audible scream when he missed a DTL forehand. Both players would hold to take the set to 5-5, however Ferrer was starting to rack up the UEs. That would carry on to a crucial service game as he sent 3 forehands long to get broken after going up 40-15, a backbreaker for the Spaniard. Novak would easily hold to take the 1st set 7-5, it was a poor end to the set from David.
Ferrer seemed to shake off that disappointing conclusion of the opening set as he came out firing with a convincing hold. Novak would follow that with a solid hold of his own, showing his soft hands with a perfectly executed half volley. Ferrer would bring the crowd to their feet the next game with an incredible display of reflexes at the net, which Novak acknowledged as well. It all went downhill from there for the Spaniard as he committed back to back double faults to get broken early in the 2nd. The Serb was now controlling court position, doing a better job of stepping up and punishing Ferrer’s conservative court positioning. At 1-3 Ferrer had to regain his composure to avoid finding himself staring at a double break deficit. After getting it to 30-30 Djokovic bailed the world #7 out with a couple of FH UEs. Both players would continue to trade holds but Ferrer wasn’t putting any pressure of Novak’s serve. At 3-5 Ferrer felt some pressure as he served to stay in the match. A brutal netcord would help Novak jump up 0-30 in the game. Ferrer battled back to 30-30 while a cheeky drop shot from Novak just missed to take the set to 5-4.
Novak would have to do the dirty work himself. The world #1 showed some nerves as he double faulted to go 30-30. Ferrer then overcooks a forehand to setup a match point for Novak. The Serb would get tight once again sending the backhand to the bottom of the net. The crowd would go ballistic as an incredible rally ended with Ferrer on top to break and even things up at 5-5 after facing match-point. The Serb would bounce back quickly breaking David right back as the drama intensified. This time Novak would quickly jump to 30-0 and not look back, closing the set out to claim the match 7-5 7-5. The defending champion booked himself a spot in the semifinal to face big John Isner, who’s been on a tear beating Dimitrov, Raonic, and Nishikori back to back to back.
Isner outhits Nishikori, Suarez Navarro, Serena setup WTA final
John Isner scored his second top 10 win of the week as he took out the favorite Kei Nishikori 6-4 6-3 to reach the semis in Miami, his best result of the 2015 season. The scoreline is a bit misleading, as Isner took control of the match early on, and also broke early in the second set. Nishikori failed to challenge him as a returner, and Isner won a remarkable number of return points himself, in fact putting up one of the best return performances of his career, against a quality ballstriker in Nishikori. Nishikori had dominated all of his opponents in the previous tournament matches, but today he no answer for the brute force and excellent shot placement that Isner put together. Nishikori thought he played well per his post-match presser, but Isner put up a textbook performance for a slow moving big server.
Carla Suarez Navarro pulled off a remarkable feat as she upset Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-3 to reach her first ever Premier level final. It was a sloppy match with players putting up a large number of errors, but in the end CSN continues to improve and cement herself as a top 10 player. Serena Williams battled past Simona Halep to complete the WTA final lineup 6-2 4-6 7-5. Williams power proved too much for defensively oriented Halep, and she could have taken the match in straight sets perhaps, but was forced into a long third set.
Pospisil/Sock, Bryans will star in the doubles final
Vasek Pospisil/Jack Sock and the Bryan Brothers will face off in the ATP doubles final. Vasek and Jack beat Melo/Soares 6-4 3-6 10-7 and Bob and Mike Bryan beat Isner and Querrey 7-6 7-5.