Defending champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic cruised through their first matches at 2015 Miami Masters. The two players have had a great start to the 2015 tennis season by claiming the first major of the year at Melbourne and are favorites in Florida this week. Serena advanced to the third round with straight-sets but difficult victory over Romania’s Monica Niculescu while Djokovic dropped a set against Martin Klizan before winning in three sets. Others men’s seeds sailing through in their matches included; Kei Nishikori, David Ferrer, Jo-Winfried Tsonga, John Isner, Jack Sock, Gilles Simon, Juan Monaco and Lukas Rosol. Among women, Caroline Wozniacki was stretched to three sets and Angelique Kerber beat Britain’s Heather Watson. But sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard was bundled out in her second round match by Germany’s world no.113 Tatjana Maria.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic finally finished his first match but not before a second set scare by Slovakia’s Martin Klizan. After taking the first set at 6-0, Djokovic suffered momentary loss of concentration as he threw away a two-game second set lead to lose at 5-7. The world’s no.1 player regained his ground and finished the match 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.
Fourth seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori was emphatic in his 6-2, 6-1 win over Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny in 69 minutes. The 25-year-old Nishikori won 70 per cent of his service points and converted 5 break opportunities out of 16 that came his way. It was the 19th win of the season for Nishikori, who won at Memphis and ended runner-up to David Ferrer at Acapulco.
Sixth seeded David Ferrer of Spain made short work of Argentinian Federico Delbonis in 58 minutes to win at 6-1, 6-1. Like Nishikori, Ferrer is also having a great time this season and he has already won three ATP titles at Doha, Rio de Janeiro and Acapulco. Ferrer was a finalist in 2013 but went down in the title match against Andy Murray after holding a match point.
In other matches; USA’s John Isner beat Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4, losing just 6 points on his serve and securing his sixth win of the season. Isner’s compatriot Jack Sock also maintained his good form this season in beating 21st seed Italian Fabio Fognini 7-6, 6-1. The 22-year old American has come back after a pelvic surgery and also performed creditably at Indian Wells, where he won the doubles title with Vasek Pospisil. In men’s singles, he had reached the fourth round before losing to Roger Federer. Sock’s third-round opponent at Miami is Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
Another injury comeback man was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who also entered the third round with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over USA’s Tim Smyczek. Playing only his first match of the season, Tsonga took 1 hour and 51 minutes. In his third round match, Tsonga will face compatriot Gael Monfils, who is seeded 17th here. Monfils came through after edging out Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 in a two-hour match. Another Frenchman Gilles Simon defeated Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-7, 6-0 and he was joined in the third round by fellow Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino, who beat Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Juan Monaco of Argentina clinched his 10th win of the season by upsetting no.14 seed Ernests Gulbis, 6-2, 6-4. Fernando Verdasco of Spain defeated Australia’s James Duckworth 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to set up an all-Spanish third-round clash with second seed Rafael Nadal. Also reaching the third round was 26th seed Lukas Rosol, who defeated 17-year-old German qualifier Alexander Zverev 7-6, 6-3.
Other than Serena Williams’ rain-interrupted second match the women’s draw threw up only one shocking result, when no.6 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was knocked out of the Miami Masters in the second round by world number 113 Tatjana Maria of Germany. Tatjana began by taking the first set 6-0 and despite Bouchard trying her best to comeback; she lost the second set on tie-break. After reaching the quarter-finals of Australian Open, Bouchard has lost all her matches in successive WTA events.
In other women’s matches, Angelique Kerber of Germany ended Heather Watson’s hopes of an extended run in the Miami Open. Despite offering strong resistance to the German, Watson went down 5-7, 6-3, 4-6. Kerber meets Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova next. Caroline Wozniacki had a tough three-set battle with Estonian Kaia Kanepi before coming through 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Sunday’s action at Miami Masters will continue with several notable players like Serena, Murray, Nadal and Wawrinka looking to keep their hopes of advancing further.