Almost everyone who played at Indian Wells until last week flew over to Key Biscayne for the 2015 Miami Masters, which is also a back-to-back ATP 1000 event. The most conspicuous absentee is one out of the Big Four, Roger Federer, who cited scheduling issues that didn’t suit his physical preservation. Federer was there last year but lost in the quarterfinals to Japanese Kei Nishikori. Interestingly, Nishikori is seeded fourth this year behind Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. The Japanese is leading the young brigade at Miami, where also in attendance are; Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov and teenagers Thanasi Kokkinakis, Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Hyeon Chung. Of these, the last four named above have already entered the second round while Kokkinakis has made his exit. Among women, everyone from Indian Wells is playing but second seed Maria Sharapova has already made her exit after she was defeated in the opener by another Russian world no.97 Daria Gavrilova in straight sets. Making her 16th appearance at Miami, Venus Williams began by beating Urszula Radwanska in the first round. Other women, who also advanced ahead on Thursday were; Urszula’s more famous sister Agnieszka, Caroline Wozniacki, Andrea Petkovic, Alice Cornet, Ekaterina Makarova, Sam Stosur and Carla Suarez Navarro.
The 2015 Miami Masters at Key Biscayne has as rich a field of ATP and WTA stars as the preceding event at Indian Wells at California. The only one missing is Roger Federer, who didn’t want to crowd his personal schedule with too many tournaments. World no.1 Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are the top three seeds at 2015. Federer’s absence has probably made Djokovic’s task easier in defending his 2014 title. The 12-day long event has a new sponsor as well. After 6 years as a co-sponsor, the Global Latin American bank Itau Unibanco is now the main partner of the 2015 Miami Masters.
In men’s singles first round matches, Argentina’s former world no.4 Juan Martin del Potro made his second comeback of the year though he ended up as a loser to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil. The Canadian defeated del Potro 6-4, 7-6 in a match lasting over two hours. Pospisil’s next match will be against no.9 seed Grigor Dimitrov. But del Potro performed creditably despite undergoing a second surgery on his playing wrist quite recently. Having been out of ATP circuit for most of 2014 del Potro returned to active tennis at Sydney’s Apia International earlier this year. He made it to the quarterfinals but lost to Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin. Then he went back to his surgeons for another operation. After losing to Pospisil, del Potro said he was not disappointed since his wrist held well during the match and it signaled a good tennis future as time goes by.
In some notable men’s singles matches completed at Miami Masters by Thursday, 33-year old Jurgen Melzer of Austria toppled USA’s Ryan Harrison 7-6, 6-3; Korea’s 18-year old Hyeon Chung defeated Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-0, 4-6, 6-4; Brazilian Thomas Bellucci beat Aussie veteran Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-7, 6-4; Slovakia’s Martin Klizan defeated Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-4 to set up a meeting with top seed Djokovic; Andrey Rublev of Russia beat Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta 1-6, 6-1, 6-4; Italy’s Simone Bolelli beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2 and German teenager Alexander Zverev defeated Australian Sam Groth 7-5, 6-7, 6-4. But the best performance was delivered by the fast rising Croatian teenager Borna Coric, who overcame cramps and first set loss to defeat Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer 1-6, 6-3, 7-6. In Friday’s matches, World no.1 Djokovic will begin his Miami campaign with a match against Martin Klizan; veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny will take on no.4 seed Kei Nishikori; no.5 seed Milos Raonic will take on another Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili
In women’s singles, the biggest casualty was no.2 seed Maria Sharapova, who suffered a shocking loss against compatriot Daria Gavrilova in two straight sets 7-6, 6-3. The pint-sized 21-year old Gavrilova, who is ranked 97 in the world, played aggressively in front of a full-capacity stadium-court crowd and sprang a huge surprise by breaking the no.2 seed four times in the match. After trailing early in the first set, Sharapova rallied but fell behind in the tiebreaker. She missed an easy overhead, which she crashed into the net. In the second set, Gavrilova raced to a 3-0 lead and did not allow Sharapova to pull back in the match. In other matches; Agnieszka Radwanska advanced by beating Anna Schmiedlova 6-4, 7-5; no.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated USA’s Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-1; no.7 seed Andrea Petrovic outplayed another American Christina Mchale 6-2, 6-2; and Kaja Kanepi eliminated no. 28 seed Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-4. No. 16 seed Venus Williams celebrated her 16th year at Miami Masters with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Agnieszka’s sister Urszula Radwanska but Venus’ sister Serena will play her first match on Friday night.