MIAMI, March 27, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Rain delay and a cancelled fourth round bookended the exhaustive men’s singles action at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Tuesday. In between, those playing put up quite a show, which offset the disappointment presented by the cancellation (and postponement) of the Roger Federer–Daniil Medvedev showdown.
The defending champion John Isner cleared another test in his title-defence attempt. The American won against Kyle Edmund, who had not dropped a set until this match, in straight sets 7-6, 7-6. Surprising as this result was in some ways – given how well the Briton had been playing and how the American had been struggling with his form – the bigger shock was to come in the way of the determining of Isner’s quarter-final opponent.
As per the draw, Isner was to face the World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic in the last eight. But it was as though this memo reached Roberto Bautista Agut before it made its way to the Serbian. So, while Djokovic was able to win the opening set and even take a break in the second set, the Spaniard bided his time well to recover the break back and win the second set before clinching the match in the deciding set à la Doha 2019. Bautista Agut won 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 26. März 2019
“He is a solid player. Congratulations to him definitely for a great comeback,” Djokovic said. “But this kind of match I should not have lost. So many opportunities. Just way too many wasted opportunities. This is what happens when you don’t capitalize on time.”
Bautista Agut’s win ended Djokovic’s streak of winning 41 matches on the trot after taking the first set. The Spaniard also boasts of being the only player to have defeated Djokovic (twice) after losing the first set, since July 2018. Who would have thought it would be this Spaniard, who would be making the 15-time Slam champion rue his chances?
Whether or not Djokovic ponders about his early ousters in Indian Wells and Miami – according to Twitter verse, he is on course to wipe away all angst at the upcoming Majors – his statements following his loss added to the ripple effect. He said, according to a tweet posted by The Times’ journalist Stuart Fraser, “Just way too many things off the court. I guess that affected me a little bit on the court. I didn’t feel my best.”
Is one to assume that the Chris Kermode issue is still weighing on his mind? Or, does one expect more turbulence along the way in men’s tennis? Only questions remain, at this point.
The doom and gloom surrounding Djokovic’s exit did not linger on since Felix Auger-Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe, Borna Coric and Denis Shapovalov upped the ante of the youngsters left in the field. Their wins marked the first time in a decade – since the 2009 Mutua Madrid Open – that four players under the age of 23 had reached the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event. Who had achieved the feat before? Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. How can a decade, then, seem to be so far away and yet so close?
Shapo seals it in style 🤘
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 27. März 2019
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov also added their bit for Canada with their results. Auger-Aliassime won 7-6(4), 6-4 against Nikoloz Basilashvili and Shapovalov rallied past Stefanos Tsitispas 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3). It was the first time since the 2013 Rogers Cup (in Montreal) that two Canadian players had reached the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event. Back in 2013, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil had made it to the last eight, with Raonic going all the way to the finals (lost to Rafael Nadal). Will history repeat itself in a better way, this time?
Tuesday evening’s match between Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev was postponed due to inclement weather. The match has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 27, Session 17 not before 3pm.