(March 24, 2017) Rafael Nadal began his quest for his first Miami Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Israel’s Dudi Sela on Friday at the Miami Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.
The Spaniard is playing in this tournament for the 13th time in his career. Although the 14-time major winner has never taken home the Miami trophy, he’s been a finalist four times – in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014 coming within two points of the title against Novak Djokovic.
“I think I was four times in the final. Probably I should win the first one.”
“Then I have another good chance, but I was in the final against Novak (Djkokovic).
“6-5, 15-30, didn’t happen,” Noted the fifth seed, and the other two finals I didn’t play very well, no?”
“I think probably even if I was not in the final, the year that I was closer to win was the year that I got injury against (Andy) Roddick in that semifinals. Was winning – never easy against Andy, no – but I have the match a little bit under control and I get injury of my knee, no, and then I lost in three sets.
“I was playing great that year. I thought that was my year. But in tennis is always the same. Life the same. “You have opportunities. If you don’t convert these opportunities, then it’s tough, no?
“But I am still playing tennis and I am still here fighting for the things that motivates me. My motivation is play enough well to have chances here.”
The top two players in the world, combining for 8 Miami titles, will give someone else a chance to win this year as both six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, withdrew with right with elbow injuries.
In the women’s field, 23-time major champion Serena Williams pulled out of both Indian Wells and Miami with a knee injury, but older sister Venus, the 11th seed opened her tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last match on center court during evening session.
Top seed Angelique Kerber bested Ying-Ying Duan 7-6(3), 6-2 while third seed Simona Halep also advanced with three-set win over Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza saved a match point to get past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in match which carried over to Friday when rain suspened the match on Thursday night.
“I think I had a second chance probably with the rain and stuff,” said Muguruza.
“It was a very — it had everything in the match. She started playing well the first set yesterday and I think my game was not exactly how I wanted to be of I was missing by a little and then she was not missing at all.
‘Then I just forgot about it. I woke up today and said, Hey, this is not over. Went to the court, I fight, and I got it again.”
Last week’s winner at Indian Wells, was an upset victim on Friday. Elena Vesnina, seeded 13th lost her second-round match to wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Vesnina’s Russian countrywoman, seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who lost to Vesnina in the Indian Wells final, moved into the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Mandy Minella.
Other seeds losing on Friday included:  Anastasija Sevastova,  Carla Suarez Navarro,  Caroline Garcia,  Kristina Mladenovic,  Timea Babos,  R. Vinci,  I. Begu,  D. Kasatkina and  Ekaterina Makarova.
American qualifier Taylor Townsend, ranked 111th in the world defeated No. 25 Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-2.
Upsets on the men’s side included:  Marin Cilic,  Grigor Dimitrov,  Lucas Pouille,  Pablo Carreno Busta,  A. Ramos-Vinolas,  Gilles Simon,  Pablo Cuevas,  Steve Johnson,  Mischa Zverev and  Joao Sousa.
Second seed Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round. So did third seed Milos Raonic, playing his first event since late February when a right leg injury put him on an injury hiatus.
“I have to be very happy with just the outcome, that I was able to get the win today, that I have another chance to play in two days,” said the Canadian.
“Hopefully I can continue to progress throughout this tournament.”
“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”