Five time champion Novak Djokovic is the only remaining top five player in the last eight at the second Masters series event of the year in Miami, but if he is to extend his record to an unprecedented fourth Indian Wells- Miami double he will face stiff resistance as all of the remaining players are ranked in top 30. Most of them have found reasonable form at this 12 day event after which the tour would move on to the red clay of Europe.
On Tuesday the 14th seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem pushed the top ranked Serb who saved 14 break points in his laborious 6-3,6-4 win in one hour fifty minutes at Crandon Park. Djokovic had a struggle on most of his service games, he played 102 points on his own serve while Thiem played only 59 on his serve. He is now the clear leader with 26-1 record in 2016; while Thiem dropped to 25-6 for the year.
Next up for Djokovic will be the seventh seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic who was taken to the distance by the Frenchman Richard Gasquet in a match lasting two hours twenty eight minutes which Berdych won 6-4,3-6,7-5. The 2010 finalist Berdych (lost to Roddick) had 12 aces and won 80% of points on his first serve. The Montpellier champion Gasquet who missed the Australian Open in January dropped to 11-3 mark for the year.
Grigor Dmitrov who caused the biggest upset of the tournament when he put out the two time champion Andy Murray in the third round looked to be in control of his match against the Frenchman Gael Monfils as he took the first set tie-break 7-5. The sixteenth ranked Monfils launched an excellent comeback to win the next two sets at 6-3 each.
Another Frenchman Giles Simon beat his fellow countryman Lucas Pouille in a surprisingly one sided encounter 6-0,6-1 lasting under one hour. Monfils next faces the sixth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2,6-4. The 17th seeded Spaniard had taken out the ninth seeded Jo Wilfred Tsonga in three sets on Monday and looked to have run out of steam against Nishikori in the last match of the evening session.
Other players through to the last eight are the Indian Wells runner up Milos Raonic who earlier in January had won the ATP 250 event in Brisbane and lost a heart breaking five set semi final to Andy Murray. Raonic who missed the whole of February owing to injury outclassed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina 6-0,6-3.
David Goffin of Belgium beat the Argentine lucky looser Horacio Zeballos 7-5,6-3. While Goffin was coming into this tournament following a career best last four appearance in Masters 1000 tournaments, Zeballos got an entry into the main draw as a lucky looser following the withdrawal of Roger Federer on Friday before his eagerly awaited showdown with Juan Martin Del Potro.
The last player in the quarter final in the 26th ranked controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios who beat the Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 7-6(3),6-3. The winner of the ATP 250 event in Metz and the Canberra native Kyrgios next takes on Milos Raonic on Thursday. The other semi final on Thursday will feature Nishikori and Monfils. Goffin and Simon play in the day session on Wednesday, while Djokovic takes on Berdych in the night session.
The following is the line up for the last eight with my pick mentioned first with their head to head record:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Tomas Berdych (7) ; Djokovic leads 22-2
David Goffin (15) v. Giles Simon (18) ; Simon leads 1-0
Milos Raonic (12) v. Nick Kyrgios (24) ; Raonic leads 2-1
Kei Nishikori (6) v. Gael Monfils (16); Nishikori leads 1-0
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]