(March 28, 2017) On the thirteenth anniversary of the first match they ever played against each other, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer won playing back-to-back matches on stadium court at the Miami Open. Top seed Stan Wawrinka lost on his 32nd birthday on Grandstand to 19-year-old Alexander Zverev.
Fifth seeded Nadal beat Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 7-6(4) to reach the elite eight of Miami.
“It’s a good start of the year, I think, for both of us,” Nadal said about himself and Federer’s 2017. “Obviously, it’s a little bit better for him, but at the same time I’m happy with the way that I am playing, happy with the way that I started the year after a tough second part of the year last year with injuries.
“So I think it’s a positive for both of us that we can still (be) around here and be very competitive almost every week that we are playing.”
The Spaniard, seeking his first Miami title will play American Jack Sock for a place in the semifinals.
“He’s a very aggressive player, very powerful player, big serve, big forehand, and a good backhand, too, no? He plays quick with his backhand.
“So I need to play aggressive. That’s the only way. If I let him play in a comfortable position going to be impossible for me. So I need to be focus with my serve, but at the same time I need to be aggressive.”
Sock who dismantled countryman Jared Donaldson 6-1, 6-2 talked about playing Nadal:
“I will definitely be looking forward to it, be excited for the battle.
“We played in Beijing couple years ago as well. Lost in three sets. Actually had a decent amount of chances there in the third. Might have even been up a break early or had a lot of break points early in the third.
“Yeah, I played in his backyard a few years ago, the French. He felt very comfortable will. I think we’re both comfortable on clay or hard. Yeah, either way should be a good battle; should be fun.
“I’ll definitely give myself a lot more chance to win this time around than maybe I did a few years ago. I’m 24 years old now and been on tour for a while. I’m playing these matches and hoping I can win and going in believing I can win for sure.”
No. 6 seed Roger Federer was pushed hard by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, the 14th seed 7-6(5), 7-6(4). The Spaniard served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken back immediately.
“Look, I felt good overall,” said Federer. “It was a different kind of match. It wasn’t the big-serving match where you’re only going to see so many looks, you know, so when you miss chances you always feel a bit frustrated sometimes. That’s where you got to keep a positive mindset and make the right plays.
“I thought Roberto did a good job of making shots, staying offensive when he could, fending off a lot of good shots that I hit. Then it was tough. The sun was coming from the side in the beginning so it’s hard to chase the lines.
“At the end I’m very happy and pleased that I got it done in straight sets.”
He’ll play Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Asked about his next match, Federer said: “I wish it’s going to be like the Australian Open, but I know it won’t be like that. Just not reality that you can come in and just beat top 10 guys basically at will.
“I think it’s going to be a tough match. He’s beaten me at the, I don’t know, Olympics, US Open, Wimbledon, in big moments, so I know he can do it.
“Also beat me in Cincinnati once upon a time on the American hard courts. And here, too, saving match points. Looking forward to it.
“He’s also pushing again to get his ranking back up again after dropping a bit, so it’s a big match for him. For me obviously right after Indian Wells I’m trying to keep rolling here.
“Yeah, looking forward to it.”
Federer’s countryman and No. 1 seed, had his birthday spoiled by Germany’s Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
“For sure it’s disappointing match,” said Wawrinka. “That’s for sure.
“I think the level was quite up and down. We were both fighting a little bit in the first set to find good level. Was really humid, not easy to play some great tennis, but we had some long rally.
“Yeah, one bad game to start the second set and then it was tough for me. I don’t know. I completely went down physically and mentally, and also my tennis was completely out.
“I had no more gas.”
The three-time major winner won only ten points in the final set.
“In the first set I felt like I played a little bit still like I should have played against John(Isner),” noted Zverev. “You know, trying to keep the rallies long, the points long.
“But, yeah, I mean, I played well in the second and third. I turned it around a little bit. I had to be aggressive. I felt like he was the one controlling all the points all the time, so I had to change that.
“It worked out well for me. Happy to be in the quarterfinals now. Hopefully I can play as great as I did today after tomorrow as well.”
Zverev will play another up-and-comer on the ATP World Tour in 12th seed Nick Kyrgios who beat 8th seed David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-3
Last year’s finalist and this year’s No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori, came back from a break down in the final set to beat Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
“Every match is going to be tough from now on,” said Nishikori.
“Well, I tried to stay calm and focus again. I knew I have a lot of chance after losing the set.
“And also, even though was down a break, 2-1, but I was focusing well. I knew if I fight through I will have some chance, so I just tried to concentrate one game at a time.”
Nishikori will play unseeded Fabio Fognini, who beat Donald Young 6-0, 6-4.
More to follow…..