Miami – Round 1st + 2nd

Great draw this year in Miami –  28 best players of the world presented their skills (Wawrinka and Youzhny withdrew, Soderling still off the tour)… After 12 years of participating in the biggest tournaments, Fernando Gonzalez [221] played his last career-match. On Wednesday, during the first night session this week, he was fighting bravely but lost 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(3) to Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchman saved three break points at 3:3 in the 3rd set (all with aces, one on second serve), later on Gonzalez fought off a double match point to push the encounter into the tie-break. “I saved a couple of match points before, and I felt that it’s going be the end, and then I have the chance to keep playing,” said Gonzalez. “I had my chances. But Nicolas played better in the important moments, and I was a little bit tired at the end. I don’t have the energy to get up in the morning, train like I have to train, travel like I have to travel. And I’ve been doing this for many years. If I’m not going to be 100 per cent, I think I have to do something else.” Also a third set tie-break was required in matches of powerful servers, Ivo Karlovic and Gilles Muller fired 27 aces each, beating respectively Lukasz Kubot and Alex Bogomolov. Kubot, just like at Indian Wells (Roddick), suffered a defeat despite serving to win the match.
Other veteran who may join Gonzalez not in the distant future, James Blake [69] for the first time in eight meetings was beaten by Nikolay Davydenko (a veteran as well) 6-4, 4-6, 4-6. In the following round Davdenko lost almost a copy-match of his first round win, being beaten by a fresh Top 10’er John Isner, who said: “As the match went on I felt more and more comfortable with my serve and my game once he was all the way back there [four feet behind the baseline]. I feel like I served pretty well; pretty much hit a lot of my spots. I work on (my volley) in practice.” after a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over the aging Russian. At the same time retired players participate in the Champions Tour in Zurich. One of them, a former No. 1 Marat Safin declared that Isner would advance even higher in the ATP ranking: “He should be inside the Top 5. It’s difficult to play against someone of his size. He serves way too big. When he has a good day it’s almost impossible to play against him. I just don’t think he is consistent enough, but he is already improving and in a few years he will get more experienced. He’s Top Ten now and he definitely still has potential.” Steve Darcis has finally lost a tie-break (after winning 14 in a row, counting Challengers) as David Nalbandian ousted him 6-4, 7-6(0) – the Argentine had a triple match point on serve at 6:5. He lost to Tipsarevic in the next round, Nalbandian had defeated the Serb last week at Indian Wells.
Mardy Fish, completely out of form this year, faces a very tough task in Miami because he has to defend a lot of points as the last year’s semifinalist, and it might be his final moments as a Top 10 player. He has made a first good step dismissing Frank Dancevic 6-3, 7-6(1), coming back from 0:3 in the 2nd set. He snapped 9-match, and 8-tie-break winning streak of the Canadian [132], who triumphed  last Sunday in the strongest Challenger of the season, in Dallas as a qualifier. After identical scoreline his match won Marin Cilic, dropping a double break in the 2nd set against Igor Kunitsyn.
“The big four” breezed through to the third round convincingly, even Novak Djokovic, who had some troubles in each of his previous six wins over Marcos Baghdatis [42]. In the last match of the second round, the Serb broke his opponent only twice (6-4, 6-4), but played a perfect match on his own serve, except the 8th game of the 2nd set when he was forced to save a double break point, and held the serve after 7 deuces (16 minutes).

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