Former champions Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and defending champion John Isner have been joined by a host of GenNext stars in the pre quarter finals of the second ATP 1000 event of the year at the new home of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. While Djokovic advanced in three sets, both Federer and Isner progressed in straight sets in the third round matches.
The top seeded Djokovic, a six time winner in 2007, 2011-12 and 2014-16, had his hands full against the left handed Argentine Frederico Delbonis, ranked a lowly 83rd in the world. After dropping the second set the Serb quickly recovered to post a 7-5,4-6,6-1 and next faces the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut after the 22nd seed caused a minor upset by beating the 15th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4,6-4.
The three time champion Roger Federer, winner of the 2005,2006 and 2017 event which was held at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, beat another Serb Fillip Krajinovic 7-5,6-3 and next runs into the Russian Daniil Medvedev who required three tie-breaks to beat the promising American giant Reilly Opelka 7-6(5),6-7(5),7-6(0) in a match where neither player dropped serve in the two hour twenty minute match. The American had 22 aces against the Russian’s tally of 19 aces, both players saved two break points each. Medvedev took command in the third set tie-break which he won 7-0. The defending champion Isner kept American hopes alive with a 7-5,7-6(6) win over the Spanish left hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas. He now plays the Briton Kyle Edmund who had a surprisingly easy 6-4,6-4 win over Canada’s Milos Raonic.
In an eagerly awaited matchup between two promising newcomers, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime took out Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(5),6-4. The latter had upset the Indian Wells champion Dominic Thiem in the second round to add to his quarter-final showing in California at the BNP Paribas Open. Another Canadian Denis Shapovalov beat the Russian Andrey Rublev 6-3,7-6(5) and will face the highest ranked GenNext star Stefanos Tsitsipas who beat another Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-4,6-4.
Other winners include Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili who beat the Dutchman Robin Haase 7-6(3),6-3. The Croat Borna Coric who has had an ordinary start to the year, needed three sets to beat the stylish Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-7(2),6-2,6-3. The controversial Aussie Nick Kyrgios was an easy 6-3,6-1 winner over the Serbian Dusan Lajovic. The sixth seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa who withdrew from the event in Indian Wells beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4,7-6(6). He is joined by another Aussie Jordan Thompson who was a shock 7-5,7-5 winner over the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
Elsewhere, the diminutive David Goffin of Belgium had a good win against the Italian Marco Cecchinato, winning in straight sets 6-4,6-4. He will now play the American Frances Tiafoe who ended the gallant run of veteran Spaniard David Ferrer 5-7,6-3,6-3. The 36 year old Ferrer who had caused the biggest upset of the tournament by beating last year’s finalist Alexander Zverev has announced he will retire later this year.
Following is the list of matches in the round of sixteen with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (22)
John Isner (7) v. Kyle Edmund (19)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (-) v. Nikoloz Basilashvili (17)
Nick Kyrgios (27) v. Borna Coric (11)
Kevin Anderson (6) v. Jordan Thompson (-)
Roger Federer (4) v. Daniil Medvedev (13)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (8) v. Denis Shapovalov (20)
Frances Tiafoe (28) v. David Goffin (18)