Miami – first two rounds
In the late 80s and early 90s, Miami (then called Key Biscayne) was regarded as a 5th Slam. This label is still using sometimes but doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s not even that tournament has been deprived of “the best of five” format for many years (obligated in years 1987-90; inception ’85), there are other things which cause that ‘Sony Ericsson Open’ loses a rivalry with its “cousin” ‘BNP Paribas’ at Indian Wells. Only Arthur Ashe stadium is bigger than Centre Court at Indian Wells, there are 3 courts with the challenge system in California, just two in Florida. Some best players manifested that nowadays West Coast > East Coast: two biggest attractions, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer withdrew as well as local player Mardy Fish, always dangerous Stanislas Wawrinka and one of the hottest players in the last three weeks – Ernests Gulbis, the only man who was really close to beat Rafa during his last three triumphs.
Problems didn’t end with those withdrawals, in the first round five players retired, Michael Llodra and Benoit Paire had an argue and didn’t shake hands which is rare in general, especially considering French players that sometimes even kiss each other after matches. As early as second round started, Dmitry Tursunov withdrew from a match against David Ferrer sending the Spaniard to the last 32 without hitting a ball, the rain fell on Day 3 and took its part in Juan Martin del Potro‘s loss (arguably 5th most desired player by officials). The Argentine played a lot of tennis in the last two months, therefore mental and physical tiredness caught him against a journeyman Tobias Kamke  on Centre Court. Del Potro squandered a 5:2 lead in the 1st set (and a few set points), then lost his focus during a tie-break in which the game was halted by rain twice. After another rainfall players left the court and when they came back to continue under the floodlights, Del Potro was powerless, unable to generate the pace, and Kamke took advantage of it playing regularly on DelPo’s error-prone backhand. The German won 7-6(5) 6-1 obtaining the most valuable victory of his career. “I saved two set points [at] 5:2 and somehow I came back in that set and had the chance to win it,” said Kamke. “The second set after the break, I felt even better. Then in the beginning, he missed some easy forehands and he was a little bit frustrated, I think. He didn’t play obviously his best tennis, but still I think I did a good job and pretty satisfied with that.” Also Daniel Gimeno-Traver on the same court but the following day was relatively close (five points) to make another major upset, as he led *2:0 in the 2nd set tie-break against Tomas Berdych having won the 1st set. The Spaniard isn’t a man of surprises though, and a serious of errors allowed Berdych to regain the control over the match and win 5-7 7-6(3) 6-2. Last years finalists and plausible finalists this year, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray thrashed their opponents, the Serb needed just 53 minutes, the Scot 3 minutes more to secure his place in the third round. For top seeds the tournament starts in the second round, for James Blake one round earlier, and he has already won two matches in a similar fashion to top seeds (dropped 2-2 & 2-3). John Isner can’t find his form this year, for the time being he reminded that he’s still one of the most clutch players on tour rallying from a 2:4 deficit in the 2nd set, later on surviving 5:6* (deuce) in the 3rd set against Ivan Dodig to win 4-6 7-5 7-6(5) firing 24 aces. Isner is very likely going to have won the most matches in the 3rd set tie-break in the Open era (26-14 record now), Carlos Moya and Ivan Ljubicic lead with 33 wins of this type. In other interesting three-set encounter, Thomaz Bellucci prevailed against Jerzy Janowicz in front of partisan Latin crowd. The Pole had a problem with a hot support for the Brazilian and left the court being booed. Bellucci won 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 playing the entire 3rd set with excessive risk (for his standards) because of limitation in his movement (needed a medical time-out in the mid-2nd set). Juan Monaco‘s slump is worse and worse – the last year’s semifinalist finally snapped a streak of losing sets, but lost anyway (2-6 6-4 3-6 vs. Albert Ramos) to extend the streak of tournament defeats to six in a row. Other Spanish speaker in a deep hole (0-8 in sets since Aussie Open third round): Fernando Verdasco – he blew a 5:0 lead in the 2nd set tie-break losing to Alejandro Falla 3-6 6-7(6). One of the biggest fighters of the current generation, Jarkko Nieminen saved a game point to avoid a 0:4 in the 2nd set and defeated David Nalbandian 2-6 6-4 6-3 in the first round. The Finn won easily his second match against a 2012 newcomer Martin Klizan, who doesn’t impress at all this year.
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