Djokovic, Isner Open Title Bid In Miami

MIAMI, March 23, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

The men’s second-round play at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Friday had more defeats, and a couple of assorted walkovers and withdrawals threaded in among the better results.

The day began with Maximilian Marterer giving a walkover to Milos Raonic into the third round, ahead of the start of their second-round match. It was a grim development and, in a way, considering Marterer had defeated Taylor Fritz just the day before, reminiscent of Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the BNP Paribas Open before his semi-final against Roger Federer in the preceding week.

Joining Marterer on the list of those who withdrew was Gaël Monfils. The Frenchman who had been in peak form this far, was forced to throw in the towel in Miami even before his campaign began. Monfils withdrew ahead of his second-round clash against Robin Haase with an ankle injury. Lucky loser Lloyd Harris came in as a replacement for Monfils but unlike his other fellow lucky loser brethren in the draw – Dan Evans and Mackenzie McDonald – the South African lost to the Dutchman 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Thiem falls

None of these, however, matched the biggest casualty of the day. That came in the form of third seed and recently-crowned Indian Wells champion Dominic Thiem being upset in his opening round by Hubert Hurkacz. Hurkacz defeated Thiem in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 and has now bagged an upset over a top-10 player in each of his last three tournaments (including Miami). Aside from Thiem, in the previous tournaments, he defeated Kei Nishikori twice, in Dubai and in Indian Wells. And while this win would bolster the Pole’s credentials, Thiem’s loss also means that the Sunshine Double – at least, among the men – will not be completed in 2019. Onwards to 2020, then.

“It’s great. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment now, to be able to play that match against Dominic today was really special for me. He’s an unbelievable player so I needed to play on the top level… I’m very happy with that,” Hurkacz said.

Isner, Djokovic advance

One, however, does not need to wait until 2020 to see if the current defending champion is still left in the fray in the 2019 draw. John Isner opened his title-defence bid with a 7-6, 7-6 win over qualifier Lorenzo Sonego. The seventh seed next plays the tricky southpaw Albert Ramos-Vinolas who upset the 25th seed Lucas Pouille 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Isner’s likely quarter-final opponent Novak Djokovic also made easy inroads into the third round. The World No. 1 and tournament’s top seed maintained his clean sheet against Bernard Tomic, winning 7-6, 6-2. Following this win, Djokovic’s win-to-loss record against the Australian quite resembles a bagel – 6-0.

“[Tomic] doesn’t give you much rhythm at all. Every ball is different. He can play equally well in the court and far behind the baseline, slows down the pace. He just has a very unconventional shot. Kind of hard to play someone that you can’t really predict what’s next. He has this service motion, you really don’t know where he’s going to go. He can hit his spots really nicely. I thought he served really well. It was really kind of hard for me to read his serve.” Djokovic said. “Second set I played better. Overall it was a solid match.”

Beyond individual results, following Djokovic’s match, the Serbian men are 6-1 in the opening two rounds of the event, making it somewhat of a Balkan fiesta.

RESULTS – MARCH 22, 2019
Singles – Second Round

[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d B. Tomic (AUS) 76(2) 62
H. Hurkacz (POL) d [3] D. Thiem (AUT) 64 64
D. Lajovic (SRB) d [5] K. Nishikori (JPN) 26 62 63
[7] J. Isner (USA) d [Q] L. Sonego (ITA) 76(2) 76(7)
[11] B. Coric (CRO) d R. Carballes Baena (ESP) 76(7) 06 62
[12] M. Raonic (CAN) d M. Marterer (GER) walkover
[15] F. Fognini (ITA) d G. Andreozzi (ARG) 57 64 64
[17] N. Basilashvili (GEO) d M. Zverev (GER) 63 62
[19] K. Edmund (GBR) d I. Ivashka (BLR) 63 62
[22] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) d [PR] J. Tipsarevic (SRB) 76(3) 64
J. Chardy (FRA) d [23] G. Simon (FRA) 64 62
A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) d [25] L. Pouille (FRA) 46 64 63
[27] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [Q] A. Bublik (KAZ) 75 63
[Q] F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d [29] M. Fucsovics (HUN) 64 46 60
F. Delbonis (ARG) d [32] J. Millman (AUS) 75 36 76(2)
R. Haase (NED) d [LL] L. Harris (RSA) 36 63 64

Doubles – First Round

[2] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d [WC] M. McDonald (USA) / R. Opelka (USA) 75 76(1)
R. Albot (MDA) / N. Basilashvili (GEO) d B. McLachlan (JPN) / N. Skupski (GBR) 62 64
J. Isner (USA) / S. Querrey (USA) d [WC] M. Demoliner (BRA) / M. Kecmanovic (SRB) 63 64