Federer Survives Scare At Miami Open

MIAMI, March 24, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

Saturday was marred by fracas at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, with players losing their tempers, along with their matches. Among the women, Angelique Kerber signed off with a sharp “you’re the biggest drama queen ever” to her opponent Bianca Andreescu, whom she defeated twice in six days. Amid the men, from Nick Kyrgios to the otherwise sober Diego Schwartzman, all had plenty to pick and complain about.

Kyrgios and his doubles partner Taylor Fritz lost their match to Guido Pella and Joao Sousa. After shaking hands with the victors at the net, Kyrgios not only let himself loose at the chair umpire but also threw his racquet on the court, smashing it visibly. If one would want to apportion blame to Kyrgios, he was not the only person complaining about the match officials.

Schwartzman, too, was upset about play being stopped midway in the first set because Reilly Opelka had some visibility problems due to reflectiveness. According to Portuguese journalist José Morgado, who shared on Twitter, Schwartzman said, “The was a reflex on the Stadium 300 meters away that bothered him because of his height. So, we stopped for 10 minutes in the middle of a game. It must be a new rule that allows you to do that.”

Schwartzman’s peeved day was not helped by Argentine daily La Nacion (seemingly) misreporting on Schwartzman’s thoughts on the match along the lines of not wanting to face a taller opponent in the American. The 21st seed called out the report and pointed out that he was talking about the lack of rhythm in Opelka’s game and beyond everything, his game was bad on the day.

Ferrer knocks out Zverev

These controversies aside, the biggest newsmaker of the day was David Ferrer. The veteran Spaniard fought to live another day – and put at bay his retirement plans for just so long – as he upset the second seed Alexander Zverev. The 36-year-old lost the opening set but came back to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in what was his first victory over a top-five player in almost five years. Despite this, should we say, it was par for the course for someone who has always been underestimated on the Tour?

“It means a lot,” said Ferrer. “It’s a special day because it’s the last year of professional tennis for me. Winning these type of matches against a Top 10 player like Sascha is a gift. I’m very happy and I’m trying to enjoy every point and every moment.

“My motivation is playing at a high level and be competitive. It’s my goal. I can’t play at my best level anymore, but I want to have good energy and play my best in every match.”

Federer fights past Albot

Ferrer’s win, then, obscured the struggle that marked Roger Federer’s victory in his second round against Radu Albot. The Swiss avoided a similar fate as last year in bowing out in the opening round but took a circuitous route in winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

“I expected a player with a great attitude, which he showed. Aggressive baseliner, moves well. He’s not afraid to come to the net. The problem is I’ve never practiced with him. I’ve never really seen him play live matches,” Federer said.

Then, all is well that ends well, one feels.