MIAMI, March 21, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
After the final rounds of qualifying were done in by relentless rain at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, Wednesday’s play saw a brutally-tight schedule at the Hard Rock Stadium. A total of 54 matches, including men’s and women’s singles first round, and men’s and women’s final round of qualifying were played. However, as rain interfered again, a few matches had to be postponed yet again to Thursday.
But, aside from the affect of rain, here is what transpired in the men’s draw:
The awarding of the wild cards was a controversy in the days leading up to the start of the tournament. One player who featured in the eye of this storm was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who received a wild card in the qualifying draw instead of the main draw. On Wednesday, as the veteran Frenchman lost in the final round of qualifying to Pablo Cuevas in straight sets, storm clouds – pardon the pun – grew darker as it was felt that Tsonga was done a blatant disservice.
Barring the disappointment about Tsonga, a couple of other results in the qualifying rounds did proffer good cheer. The first was of Felix Auger-Aliassime making it to the main draw after a win over Paolo Lorenzi. The second was of Prajnesh Gunneswaran defeating Jay Clarke to make it to his second ATP Masters 1000 main draw, after Indian Wells.
So, now, onwards to the main draw where the theme continued to be that of a mixed bag: of bad and of the worst.
To begin with the bad, a shocking withdrawal greeted the start of the day as Tomas Berdych pulled out of the tournament with a back injury. Qualifier Thiago Monteiro took his place in the draw and will face Bernard Tomic on Thursday. The winner will play World No. 1 and the tournament’s top-seed Novak Djokovic.
The worst, however, came in the first-round clash between Mischa Zverev and Nicola Kuhn. Earlier, the two split sets in the stifling humidity. Just as the clash seemed to be evenly poised in the deciding set, at 2-1, the Spaniard suddenly collapsed face down on the court (the game was on his serve). In immense pain, he writhed, unable to even move. It was only after a few seconds that a ball boy came up with him a towel even as Kuhn struggled to turn himself over. What followed was extremely terrifying to watch, with Kuhn’s face a picture of agony as cramps left him unable to do much except retire from the match. It cast a darker shadow over an already weary day.
Tennis can be a BRUTAL sport 😥
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 20. März 2019
RESULTS – MARCH 20, 2019
Singles – First Round
F. Delbonis (ARG) d P. Gojowczyk (GER) 64 62
[PR] J. Tipsarevic (SRB) d B. Klahn (USA) 63 63
G. Andreozzi (ARG) d M. Kukushkin (KAZ) 76(3) 64
H. Hurkacz (POL) d M. Berrettini (ITA) 64 63
M. Zverev (GER) d [WC] N. Kuhn (ESP) 46 75 22 Retired
R. Carballes Baena (ESP) d D. Kudla (USA) 61 62
Qualifying Singles – Second Round
Qualifying –  R. Albot (MDA) d M. Krueger (USA) 63 75
Qualifying –  F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d  P. Lorenzi (ITA) 76(1) 62
Qualifying –  [WC] R. Opelka (USA) d  M. Granollers (ESP) 63 76(4)
Qualifying –  L. Sonego (ITA) d  M. McDonald (USA) 75 64
Qualifying –  P. Cuevas (URU) d  [WC] J. Tsonga (FRA) 64 64
Qualifying –  T. Monteiro (BRA) d  L. Harris (RSA) 76(5) 76(2)
Qualifying –  C. Ruud (NOR) d  E. Donskoy (RUS) 67(2) 62 62
Qualifying –  P. Gunneswaran (IND) d [WC] J. Clarke (GBR) 64 64
Qualifying – A. Bublik (KAZ) d  D. Evans (GBR) 64 64
Qualifying – L. Lacko (SVK) d  D. Istomin (UZB) walkover
Qualifying –  A. Rublev (RUS) d B. Fratangelo (USA) 64 64
Qualifying – [WC] M. Ymer (SWE) d N. Rubin (USA) 64 57 62