December 3, 2016

Djokovic Handily Defeats Nadal at Sony Open For A Second Indian Wells-Miami Double

By Kevin Ware

(March 30, 2014) KEY BISCAYNE – In a result that few expected, Novak Djokovic handily beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 in the Sony Open men’s final for his fourth title in Miami (2007, 2011, 2012, 2014). This win is also his fourth Masters Series title win in a row (Shanghai, Paris, Indian Wells, Miami), and his second Indian Wells-Miami double.

More importantly, it was his third straight win over his Spanish rival before the start of the clay season, which could make for interesting drama in run up to the French Open.

Sunday’s match between Djokovic and Nadal was the 40th meeting in what has become the most prolific rivalry in ATP history. Many expected Sunday’s match to provide an encore to their epic 2011 final. But after fending off his only break point in his first service game of the match, Novak eventually settled into a ground game for which Nadal had few answers.

For Nadal, the key to winning this match was threefold: serve well, vary his ground game, and defend the Djokovic “down the line” backhand with aggressive hitting on his own backhand. There were early signs, however, that Nadal’s weaponry was misfiring.

He struggled to find the necessary depth on his crosscourt forehand, his backhand often sailed long, and Djokovic rarely allowed him to tee off on his preferred inside-out forehand. Conversely, once Djokovic found his range on his backhand and forehand shots, Nadal was on constant defense with little chance to assert his game on his Serbian opponent.

The crucial break in the first set came at 3-2 on the Nadal serve. Struggling to find his first serve, Nadal quickly sank to Love-30 with the help of a Djokovic touch volley winner and an untouchable crosscourt backhand winner. A timely unreturnable serve gave Nadal a glimmer of hope, but was quickly snuffed out by an amazing baseline-kissing Djokovic forehand followed by a Nadal backhand unforced error.

That one break was all that Djokovic needed to close out the first set in 39 minutes.

Nadal’s usually reliable serve let him down badly in the final. His first serve percentage of 59% wasn’t great, but his 47% second serve percentage was major a liability. Nadal’s lacking offensive game stemmed from an inability to defend second serves that were often 80-90 mph. Then again, it’s difficult to defend that speed at the top of the men’s game, even with perfect placement.

There was concern that perhaps a flair-up of his earlier back issues was affecting his serve speed. Nadal, always reluctant to talk about injury issues, gave a curt, “I am fine.  Thank you very much” when asked about this in post-match press.

The second set continued as the first ended, with Nadal struggling on offense, and Djokovic confidently hitting every shot in his repertoire. There were moments when Nadal’s offensive game surfaced, only to be muted by one of his many unforced errors on the next point. Nadal fought as best he could, but couldn’t stop the inevitable as Djokovic ended the long championship point rally with a volley into open court.

Nadal ended the match with 15 winners against 20 unforced errors. Djokovic’s numbers were significantly better at 22 winners against 14 unforced errors. In matches that are determined by a handful of points, it’s hard to overcome this type of deficit.

For Nadal, however, the primary cause for Sunday’s final failures was the superior play of his opponent. Djokovic is one of the few players who can hurt Nadal when he’s playing his best tennis. He can hurt Nadal in many ways, and with few defensive options.

“So playing against him is the worst thing that can happen for me, because in general, talking about the first two shots, he has a better return than my one, he has a better serve than my one in this surface, especially.”

“Today Novak played at very high level in my opinion and was better than me.”

In sharp contrast to the relief displayed by Djokovic after his win over Roger Federer at Indian Wells, the newly-crowned Miami champion came into Sunday’s post-match news conference smiling, happy, and obviously looking forward to continuing his momentum as the tour moves to European clay. He credited the confidence from that Federer win for much his strong play in Miami.

“That was a great confidence boost for me that I carried on in this week, and this tournament has been perfect from the beginning to the end.  The matches that I have played I played really well, and I elevated my game as the tournament progressed.  The best performance of the tournament came in the right moment on Sunday against the biggest rival (Nadal).”

When asked if he was glad that Djokovic existed to offer him a challenge”, Nadal quickly (and jokingly) said, “No.  I like challenges, but I am not stupid.”

In a telling reversal, Novak offered a very different viewpoint on the challenge of playing his rivals. “I think challenges, big challenges that I had in my career changed me in a positive way as a player. Because of Rafa and because of Roger I am what I am today…”

“Obviously it’s not easy when you’re playing a top rival at the finals of any tournament, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, you know.  You have to win against the best players in the world. That’s the biggest challenge you can have.”

Nadal’s loss in Sunday’s final continued a disappointing trend for Spaniards in Miami. No Spanish men have won the title in the tournament’s 30-year history, and are 0-7 in the Miami final. Nadal lost in four of those finals, and is joined by David Ferrer (2013), Carlos Moya (2003), and Sergi Brugera (1997).

Kevin Ware was in Key Biscayne covering the Sony Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Serena Williams Wins A Record-Setting Seventh Miami Title at the Sony Open

By Kevin Ware

(March 29, 2014) MIAMI – Serena Williams won her seventh Sony Open title over Li Na in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.

With this win, Williams becomes the winningest player in the tournament’s history. Competing in her ninth final, Williams’ seven titles now eclipses the six won by Andre Agassi. She has the most main draw match wins in tournament history (67), and joins Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova as the fourth player in the Open Era to win the same tournament seven or more times.

None of this would have come to pass, however, if Williams hadn’t willed herself into yet another brilliant comeback after an error-filled start to the women’s final. In her semi against Maria Sharapova, Williams found herself in a deep hole, down 1-4. In her final against Li Na, the reigning Australian Open champion, she once again found herself behind the eight ball.

The statistics tell the story of Williams struggles, with a first-serve percentage at 42%, 3 double faults, and 21 unforced errors against only 15 winners. While it’s true that Li Na got off to a great start with her own game, Williams was her own worst enemy. And then, two breaks down and fighting to stay in the set at 2-5, Williams rediscovered her championship mettle.

Forehands that had previously found the bottom of the net were hitting their mark deep in the corners or on the back of the baseline, her “down the line” backhand became untouchable, and her serve became the weapon that we’ve all come to expect from World No. 1.

The rest is history. Williams went on to win 11 of the next 12 games, fighting off one set point at 4-5 before winning a closely-fought first set, and rolling through the second. It was a vintage performance from a player who seems to play her best when facing defeat.

When asked about this particular trend in her post-match news conference, Williams was quick to say, “I definitely don’t do it on purpose.”

“I think for the most part, I try to do the best I can, and sometimes, you know, things I’m doing don’t work out, but they are the right things and eventually they start to work.”

Li Na had her chances to close out the set, but was broken twice in the process. The second of those breaks, lasting 6 deuces, handed the first set to Williams. After relinquishing such a big lead, one might expect a certain amount of frustration or disappointment. But Li Na, who’s gained a newfound sense of calm since beginning her work with coach Carlos Rodriguez, was pragmatic about the lead that slipped away.

“I don’t have to see how was the score, because even the match didn’t finish yet.  Still everyone has a chance.” She went on to add, “I think this is tennis, because if I was play more aggressive, for sure she will going back a little bit.  If she play a little bit forward, I have to going back a little bit. So this is tennis.”

In spite of the loss, Li was happy with her game. “I mean, really nothing to say.  I don’t think today I was doing like a wrong game plan or I was play totally wrong. I think it was pretty good match.”

The second set was a cleaner affair for Williams. Though her first serve percentage remained low at 43%, she managed to win 90% of first serve points and 61% of second serve points. More importantly, she didn’t allow her serving woes to bring down the rest of her game as it has in past matches.

“I think now if my serve isn’t great, it’s okay because I have a great forehand, I have a great backhand, I have great speed.”

“You know, I have so many things that I want to have a backup plan, because today I only served at 40%.  I still have to figure out a way to win doing that.” Her backup plan was clearly more than enough to overcome on this day.

With 59 titles under her belt, and a slew WTA records, Williams could justifiably retire tomorrow as one of the all-time greats. I was curious to know just how this future Hall of Famer continues to challenge herself when there’s so little left to prove.

“I think I love the challenge, and I feel like if I feel like I can be the best right now, then why not continue to be the best and do the best that I can?”

Spoken like a true champion.

Kevin Ware is in Key Biscayne covering the Sony Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Kei Nishikori Rallies to Upset Roger Federer at Sony Open

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

(March 26, 2014) No. 5 Roger Federer let a set and a break lead slip and a game Kei Nishikori came back for the upset win 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Wednesday night to reach the semis of the Sony Open. For Japan’s Nishikori, it’s his second straight day with a victory over a top five player as he won a match against No. 4 David Ferrer on Tuesday after saving four match points. It’s his second straight win over Federer, over whom he now has a 2-1 record against.

He has also snapped Federer’s semifinal run streak at seven straight tournaments in stopping him in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

No. 21 Nishikori has now advanced to his second ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.

In fact Federer was up a break twice in the second set but couldn’t close out the win.  Federer had his serve broken for the first time in the tournament by Nishikori who broke it four more times. Federer committed 39 unforced errors during the match versus 29 winners.

“Just couldn’t find my rhythm on the serve today, which was surprising, especially after how well I’ve played and served, especially this week, but I think it didn’t take off the way it did during the daytime,” Federer said after the match.  “You could expect that, but then plus the temperature drop had something to do with that.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

“In the dark, for some reason, I just ‑‑ you know, I haven’t played many matches this year, or maybe lately.  Only one against Tommy Haas in Indian Wells and maybe the switch didn’t work that well for me.

“But still, you know, I had the set and a break, and then another break again, so it’s a bit frustrating.  But I think Kei did well to stay with me and then, you know, not allow me to get that, you know ‑‑ that I could hold my serve and then maybe feel comfortable.

“He right away made me feel uncomfortable and stayed with me, so he was more consistent in the second and third, and those are the ones he won.  At the end it’s his credit, of course, as well.”

“Feeling good, of course, you know, to beat Roger, and it’s second time to beat him,” the 24-year-old said.  “It was different conditions.  It was, you know, tough to play on the court, both of us.

“But I thought I really played well, especially in the third.  I was hitting both deep and striking well.  Everything was going well.  You know, there was couple of tough moments, but, you know, I was fighting through and happy to win today.

“He (Federer) wasn’t making a lot of first serves today,” Nishikori explained.  “I don’t know.  Maybe because the wind.  I don’t know.

“So I was trying, you know, to step in his second serve, and my return was going well.  That was the key for the game today.”

Federer said that she sees a bright future for the Japanese player.

“I think Kei does really well controlling the ball,” said the 32-year-old. “He has great technique, especially on the backhand, very simple, very short back swings, so he does a really nice job of having good timing.

“Then the forehand can be sometimes a bit off, but I think he does a good job, you know, with his feet.  He’s a quick mover.  Same with the his serve.  I think he’s done a good job using that to his advantage now.

“I think he’s serving better this year, and I see him moving up the rankings.  Clearly, I mean, with this tournament anyway but also in the future.  I predict he’s going to be top 10 in a short while.”

Nishikori will play Novak Djokovic on Friday for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Federer will go home and prepare for Davis Cup in Geneva the weekend of April 4-6.

 

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Djokovic Fends Off a Strong Murray Challenge to Reach Miami Semis

 

By Kevin Ware

(March 26, 2014) Wednesday’s quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was undoubtedly going to provide a good test for both heading into the clay season. For Djokovic, it would provide a test of his newfound confidence after winning Indian Wells. For Murray, it would provide a much-needed gauge for the status of his game as well as his fitness.

In the end, Djokovic won in straight sets 7-5, 6-3. But it would be safe to say that each player got what they needed from this encounter.

Conditions were windy at the start of the match, and picked up slightly throughout the match. Djokovic initially handled the conditions best, hitting cleanly with depth from both sides. and effectively his serve. Conversely, Murray started loosely with shanks on his forehand wing and backhands into the net.

Fortunately for Murray, his stellar defense was on full display, saving him in many of the longer rallies. And any questions of fitness after his back issues in the R16 were answered as Murray sprinted from sideline to sideline in pursuit of Djokovic’s shots: with no sign of his signature grabbing at his back or legs.

The first real signs of trouble for Murray came in the fourth game. His only double fault of the first set gave Djokovic his first break point of the match. Murray fended off that break point, and then another, before winning the game with a spectacular forehand crosscourt shot that the replay showed kissed the outside of the line.

Djokovic faced his first break point of the match in the eleventh game after back-to-back double faults. The break was saved by an untimely forehand unforced error from Murray: one of his 29 unforced errors on the day. Novak held with an ace, forcing Murray to hold to force the tiebreak.

Controversy followed, however, in the twelfth game when a strong Djokovic return on the Murray serve set up an easy volley at the net. Replays on the stadium’s monitors showed Djokovic reaching over the net. Murray, who’d initially questioned the chair, saw his suspicions confirmed. He argued for the point, but to no avail.

Djokovic came to the net with Murray, and admitted reaching over to hit the volley. He wasn’t aware of any rule against doing so, and thought he’d won the point. “I thought that it’s allowed, to cross, you know, the racquet on his side without touching the net. That’s why I thought I won the point. I did not know that the rule is that I’m not allowed to cross the net.”

Murray, who was clearly distracted by the chair’s refusal to grant him the point, lost the next three points to lose the service game at love and with it, the set. “He (the umpire) said, yes, he was over the net, but he was in line with the net, so I didn’t understand really.”

In spite of the controversy, Murray acknowledged that it was only one game. He declined to give it any more credit than due, focusing instead on his missed chances in the second set. “I mean, it maybe had a slight bearing on that game, but I was still up a break in the second set.”

That break came in the fifth game when, in spite of two well-placed aces, Djokovic was broken for the first time in the match. Instead of making the most of this opportunity, Murray played a loose game and was broken again to level at 3-all. Novak played well enough, but Murray was hurt by two ill-timed double faults (five in total) and few more unforced errors.

After leveling the set, Djokovic wasted little time in closing out the match. He won the final three games at love, sealing the win with a forehand down the line passing shot. It wasn’t his best tennis, but Djokovic certainly forced Murray to play at the highest level from the very first point.

“I expected him to play well, to be a little bit more aggressive. I watched him play against (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga, and he was stepping in on the second serve, coming to the net. He did that few times successfully today.”

“Winning the first set, obviously it gave me the certain kind of relief and confidence, and then in the second, even when I was broken, I felt like I still have chances and I still, you know, believe that I could win in straight sets.”

For his part, Murray was pleased about his performance. “I think my game is just about there. It’s not far off. I had many opportunities today like 30-All games and Love-30 (games) on his serve, and I didn’t serve so well when I went ahead in the second set.”

Even with the first-set controversy, there were positives Murray could take from this loss. “I would have liked to have done that better, but I was hitting the ball better from the back of the court. I was playing aggressive. I was taking the ball early. I was trying to come forward a bit. My game is not far from where I want it to be.”

Kevin Ware is in Key Biscayne covering the Sony Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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“Big Four,” Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray Advance to Sony Open Quarters

 

(March 25, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 5 Roger Federer and No. 6 Andy Murray all reached the Sony Open quarterfinals on Tuesday while No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka and No. 4 David Ferrer were upset.

Nadal had no problems dismissing Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. Nadal only lost only three points during the match has dropped a total of only nine games in the three matches played so far at the Sony Open.

“First three matches I was able to find the right rhythm on court, playing aggressive, playing with no mistakes, so today was a little bit strange match,” Nadal said.

“I am sorry for Fabio.  I think he felt a little bit, I don’t know how to say, but he felt a little bit close to the hip, something from yesterday.  So was not easy for him to play that match.

“But anyway, I think I managed well the situation.  The wind, it was hard tonight, and I was manage to do well.  So I think I played the right match.”

Novak Djokovic pushed past Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5. In a bit of good sportsmanship, Djokovic gave back a point which was called out, which was indeed in.

“I mean, for me, it’s something as normal,” Djokovic said about giving the point back.  “I don’t want to talk about the nice gesture that I have done.  I don’t like to talk about myself, you know.  I let everybody else to judge.

“But for me that’s something that is absolutely normal if I am not able to ‑‑ if I judge that I couldn’t win the point, that I had no chance to get that ball back in the court, or if I see the ball is good, I’m going to tell him to challenge it or that it’s very close.

“For me it’s something that is part of the sport and fair play that, you know, I think I expect everybody else to do the same.  Of course, not everybody else is the same, but for me that’s something that’s normal, just a normal, natural reaction.”

Djokovic will play Andy Murray next in the quarterfinals. Murray beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1.

“Andy is a defending champion,” Djokovic said of a potential match-up with Murray.  “He won a couple of Grand Slams, Olympic gold medal, and obviously he’s the player who can, you know, play big‑time tennis on a big stage.”

Murray who had back surgery last year, appeared to be some pain during his win over Tsonga, despite winning easily in 73 minutes.

“My game is getting there.  I mean, the last six sets I played have been very high‑level tennis.  Again, very few errors and aggressive tennis.  You know, coming forward, taking my opportunities to hit winners, and come to the net when I had the chance.

“Yeah, I’m playing better each match, and I hope that continues.  You know, last couple of weeks have been difficult for obvious reasons.  But, you know, hopefully I’m coming out the other side of that now and keep playing better.”

“It was sore, but I still moved well throughout the rest of the match, which is a good sign.  Was probably moving better at the end of the match than I was at the beginning, so that’s probably a good sign.”

Roger Federer only needed needing 49 minutes to defeat No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2. Federer hit 25 winners during the match to Gasquet’s 8.

“I think I played well.” Federer said. “I served well.  I made my returns I had to and stayed aggressive, so I didn’t let him just make errors.  I forced him to do stuff.  It was a good match for me.”

Federer will play Kei Nishikori who saved 4 match points before upsetting fourth seed David Ferrer 7-6 (7), 2-6, 7-6 (9).

“He had obviously a very difficult match with Ferrer, but a great one which everybody watched in the locker room and the player restaurant,” Federer said.  It was one of those thrilling end to the matches, you know, into the tiebreaker with match points saved.  It had the whole drama.

“Either one could have won, but in tennis always one guy’s got to win.  Kei did a good job getting it done at the end.  I only played him twice but practiced with him many times, so we know each other well so there are no real secrets out there.

“Clearly I think it’s an advantage at this point now that I had a quick match today and he had a really brutal match against Ferrer.  Can I take advantage of it?  Can he recover quickly?  We will see tomorrow.

“But I’m sure we will see him out on the court, and he will give it everything he has.  He always has.”

In another upset on the day, No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov stopped three seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych who eliminated the last American man, John Isner 6-3, 7-5

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Rafael Nadal Makes Quick Work of Denis Istomin

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 24, 2014) Rafael Nadal may have received a warning for slow play, but he made quick work of disposing of Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes to reach the fourth round of the Sony Open on Monday.

“I played a very complete match,” the world No. 1 said.  “Talking about the things that you can do well in the tennis court, today I think I did the most ‑‑ not every one because not match is perfect, but I did a lot of things very well.  No mistakes, serving with good percentage, and playing a lot of winners.

“My movements were better than what I did last event events.  That’s a very important thing for me.  I am happy to be in that fourth round, winning not against an easy opponent like Istomin, a tough one, that way.  It’s impossible win with that result if I don’t play well.”

Next for Spaniard is Italian Fabio Fognini.

“He’s an opponent, very uncomfortable opponent,” Nadal said.  “He’s an opponent that is playing great.  He has an amazing talent.  Great forehand, great backhand, especially the forehand, but he’s able to hit winners from every part of the court.

“So he’s an opponent sometimes that can be unpredictable, and is difficult to play against these kind of players ‑ especially when they are playing well and Fognini is playing well.

“I need to try to let him play with ‑‑ if he wants to play, try to find the winners, and I need to try to let him play from not easy positions.  If he’s playing with comfortable positions will be very difficult for me.”

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“Straight-Up Bad,” Sloane Stephens Crushed by Caroline Wozniacki at Sony Open

sLOANE sTEPHENS dUBAI

Sloane Stephens

(March 23, 2014) No. 18 Caroline Wozniacki destroyed No. 16 Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-0 on Stadium Court in less than an hour at the Sony Open.

“I’m pleased about the way I played,” Wozniacki aid.  Definitely very happy about the performance out there.

Stephens’ lone game in the match came on a break of serve, she did not hold her serve at all during the match.

“Just really disappointing night,” Stephens said.  Just got my butt kicked, and that’s about it really.

The statistics tell the story of the match for Stephens. She committed 37 unforced errors and hit only 12 winners. The American won only 26 points in the entire 55 minute match.

“Just try and make some balls in the court,” Stephens said in press.  “That normally helps.  Just, like I said, it was really disappointing.  Just wasn’t getting ball in the court.  She played solid.”

“It wasn’t like it was a choice or I had any chances,” she continued.  “It was just straight‑up bad.”

“I have been playing good, practicing good.  Everything has been good.  Just kind of a disappointing night for me.  It’s just something ‑‑ it just happened.  I couldn’t fight my way out of it.

“Not really anything I’m going to cry too much over.  I’m just going to get back to work and get ready for Charleston next week.”

Wozniacki was asked about her focus during the match when her opponent was not playing up to her potential.

“You actually have to stay even more focused because you know she’s going to go for it at some point,” said the Dane.  “Things can turn easy, especially when you’re up by a lot.

“The other person doesn’t have anything to lose, so you know you really have to be on your toes and expect anything.”

“So I just stayed focused out there.  I didn’t let her into the match.  I didn’t give one point away.  I was very happy about that.”

Wozniacki will play her fourth round march against Vavara Lepchenko.

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Venus Williams Ekes Out Victory over Dellacqua

(March 23, 2014) Three-time Sony Open champion Venus Williams edged out wildcard Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to reach the fourth round on Sunday.

The match which lasted two-and-a-half hours saw Williams commit 44 unforced errors but she hit 11 aces in the win.

Williams moved out quickly to a 5-1 lead in the opening set but could not serve out the first set and Dellacqua got back on serve at 4-5. Williams broke to win the first set.
In the second set, the Australia went up a break but Williams evened out the set at 4-4. Dellacqua broke against and closed out the set 7-5.
Williams had a 4-2 lead in the deciding set only to see the lead vanish to 4-4. After holding serve, Williams broke serve to win the match.

“She’s playing so well and mixing her shots up so I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but definitely looking forward to the next round,” Venus Williams said.

“I do try and compete.  I mean, being out here, even if it’s not your best day, no matter what the circumstances are, for me, I just try to walk off the court knowing at least even if I didn’t play my best I gave 100,000%.”

Williams will face No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova, who beat No. 22 Alice Cornet 7-6 (6), 6-1.

“I don’t even know the last time I played her, but I know every time she plays Serena she competes so well,” Venus said.  “I think they played here last year in the semifinals.  I was watching that match.  It may have been a three‑setter.  I just remember it was very tough.

“When I get out there, I just have to see how she’s hitting the ball.  I know she hits it hard and goes for it.  We’ll see.  I just haven’t played her in so long.”

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Andy Murray Moves into Round of 16 of the Sony Open

Andy Murray smiling

(March 23, 2014) Defending champion Andy Murray moved into the round of 16 at the Sony Open on Sunday.

The No. 6 ranked Murray maintained his perfect record against Feliciano Lopez at 9-0 dismissing the Spaniard 6-4, 6-1. Murray who is looking to defend his title from last year and claim his third crown at the Sony Open.

Murray, who just announced a mutual split with his coach Ivan Lendl last week, had his former coach in his box in the stands on Sunday. Murray worked with Lendl for two years and the partnership lead to the Scot winning an Olympic Gold medal in 2012, along with US Open in the same year and Wimbledon in 2013.

Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl Agree to Part Ways

“We’re back together again. It was only a four- or five-day split,” Murray joked after the match. “No, it’s a shame he won’t be watching many more of my matches from the stands.”

Murray’s mother Judy and admirer of Lopez’s form has been calling him “Deliciano” for the past few years. Murray led off the match by breaking the Spaniard’s serve and really never had to look back.

“It’s not always that easy to feel comfortable against him because there is not loads of rhythm with the way he plays,” Nurray said of his opponent’s game.

“But I moved well; returned well.  Yeah, it was obviously a more comfortable scoreline than the other day.”

Murray will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga next after the Frenchman came back for a 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 victory over Marcos Baghdatis. He was when two points away from defeat at 5-1 down in the second set tiebreak.

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Rafael Nadal Dusts Off Lleyton Hewitt at Sony Open

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 22, 2014) Rafael Nadal dominated Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday night 6-1, 6-3 at the Sony Open.

Back on Thursday Hewitt joined Nadal and Roger Federer as the only active players with 600 or more career wins on the ATP World Tour.

Lleyton Hewitt Reaches 600th Win Milestone

“I think I played a solid match with not many mistakes,” Nadal explained.  “It’s true that I am having the feeling of the back better for two weeks already, so I start to feel a little bit more comfortable with the serve because I am able to practice a little bit the serve and to do the normal movement again.

“So that’s important thing for me.  And from the baseline, I think in Indian Wells I didn’t play the right way.  I think I played with too many mistakes.  Some good points; some bad points.  I tried to play with all the time the logical shot.

“So playing against his backhand, and when I had the chance change to the down the line with the forehand, no?  I think the good thing is I didn’t have a lot of mistakes.

“I think Lleyton played much better in the second set.  He played more aggressive.  I was solid with my serve.  Some good rallies.

“Very happy the way that I played at the end of the first set.  Start to feeling the ball very well with the forehand, changing directions.

“In general, I have to be very happy the way that I start, I think.”

Nadal moves into the third round.

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