Djokovic de­feats Dol­go­polov; Venus loses

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN WINE

Be­fore the first set ended Tues­day, No­vak Djokovic had busted a racket in anger, drawn jeers from the crowd and re­ceived two code vi­o­la­tions, which cost him a point penalty. There were no fur­ther out­bursts, and as Djokovic’s play im­proved, so did his mood. He ral­lied from a break down in the sec­ond set and beat Alexandr Dol­go­polov 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-0 in the fourth round of the Miami Open.

“The first set and a half, he was dom­i­nat­ing from the base­line,” Djokovic said. “I was frus­trated and ner­vous and wasn’t show­ing com­po­sure on the court.”

Dol­go­polov led 4-1 in the sec­ond set be­fore Djokovic mounted a come­back to re­main in con­tention for his fifth Key Bis­cayne ti­tle. Dol­go­polov re­quired treat­ment from a trainer af­ter the sec­ond set and lost 36 of the fi­nal 41 points.

Venus Wil­liams’ re­cent resur­gence stalled when she lost in the quar­ter­fi­nals to No. 12- seeded Carla Suarez Navarro 0-6, 6-1, 7-5. The 34-year-old Wil­liams was bro­ken six times in the fi­nal two sets and dou­ble-faulted twice in the fi­nal game.

“Too many er­rors, and I was go­ing for it the whole match,” Wil­liams said. “To­ward the end, I just never found the happy medium be­tween be­ing ag­gres­sive and putting the ball in the court.”

Wil­liams is a three-time Key Bis­cayne cham­pion, but her most re­cent ti­tle came in 2001. Her sis­ter, seven-time cham­pion Serena Wil­liams, will play in the quar­ter­fi­nals Wed­nes­day against No. 27 Sabine Lisicki.

With Rafael Nadal al­ready elim­i­nated and Roger Fed­erer skip­ping the tour­na­ment, the No. 1-seeded Djokovic’s most likely op­po­nent in the fi­nal would be No. 3 Andy Mur­ray, who be­came the ninth ac­tive man to win 500 matches by beat­ing Kevin An­der­son 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

The mile­stone made Mur­ray’s victory es­pe­cially sweet. Af­ter­ward he was pre­sented with a cake large enough to feed many of the play­ers he has beaten.

Mur­ray will face un­seeded Do­minic Thiem in the quar­ter­fi­nals, while Djokovic will play No. 6 David Fer­rer.

No. 22 John Is­ner, the last Amer­i­can in the men’s draw, reached the Key Bis­cayne quar­ter­fi­nals for the first time by out­last­ing No. 5 Mi­los Raonic in a serv­ing duel, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5). Is­ner, who has yet to be bro­ken in three matches, next faces No. 4 Kei Nishikori, who beat No. 18 David Gof­fin 6-1, 6-2. Nishikori has lost 10 games in his three matches.

Oth­ers ad­vanc­ing in­cluded un­seeded Juan Monaco and No. 8 To­mas Berdych, who won when No. 17 Gael Mon­fils fell, hurt his right hip and re­tired in the sec­ond set.

In other women’s play, No. 9 An­drea Petkovic swept No. 14 Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-2.

Djokovic re­ceived a warn­ing for ball abuse early in his match, and when he net­ted a fore­hand to fall be­hind 5-4, he slammed his racket against the con­crete to earn a sec­ond code vi­o­la­tion. The crowd hooted as he walked to his chair, and Djokovic raised both arms in re­sponse.

“That was a ges­ture of just feel­ing bad for what I have done,” Djokovic said. “I was fight­ing a battle in­side of my­self, I would say. That was the big­gest battle that I fought to­day.”

Djokovic quickly re­gained his com­po­sure, but it took him awhile to find his range against Dol­go­polov, who slices his ground­strokes as if hit­ting them with a sand wedge.

“He was play­ing well,” Djokovic said. “He has a very un­ortho­dox game — tricky op­po­nent, mixes up the pace, and can eas­ily get you out of the rhythm.”

Af­ter the sec­ond set, a trainer ban­daged the soles of Dol­go­polov’s feet. He moved poorly af­ter that and won only three of 27 points in the fi­nal set.

Mur­ray’s round-num­ber victory was more straight­for­ward. He im­proved to 500-155, be­com­ing the 46th man to reach the mile­stone dur­ing the Open Era, and the first from Bri­tain.

“I don’t know why, but get­ting to 500 gives me mo­ti­va­tion to go on and try and win more,” Mur­ray said. “I hope I’ve still got a lot more wins in me.”

To beat the 6-foot-8 An­der­son, Mur­ray re­lied on lots of de­fense and just enough of­fense. He scram­bled all over the court to keep points go­ing, and in the fi­nal game made im­prob­a­ble saves to ex­tend ral­lies on con­sec­u­tive points, win­ning both.

When Mur­ray broke for a 3-1 lead in the fi­nal set, he screamed “Come on!” loud enough to star­tle any sun­bathers across the street on Cran­don Beach. He eas­ily held from there, win­ning 12 of 13 points in his fi­nal three ser­vice games.

Mur­ray plays again Wed­nes­day, while Djokovic is off un­til Thurs­day and glad to be. He has al­ready played 38 matches this year, which may be why he has dropped a set in each of his first three rounds at Key Bis­cayne.

“I’ve played a lot of matches,” he said. “It’s tak­ing a lit­tle bit of a toll men­tally on me. I don’t feel that I’m very fresh on the court, even though I’m try­ing. The day off will def­i­nitely serve me and help me to re­cover men­tally mostly, be­cause phys­i­cally I’m fine.”

AP

(Above) Andy Mur­ray, of Great Bri­tain, poses for pho­tos with the cake he was given for win­ning his 500th match, af­ter he played Kevin An­der­son, of South Africa, at the Miami Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Key Bis­cayne, Florida on Tues­day, March 31 (Right) Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Repub­lic, re­turns the ball to An­drea Petkovic, of Ger­many, dur­ing their match at the Miami Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Key Bis­cayne, Florida on Tues­day.

AP

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