Andy Roddick turned back the clock a few years and played some inspired tennis to defeat Roger Federer 76(4) 16 64 in the 3rd round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Roddick ended Federer's 16-match winning streak and the Swiss's bid to win the Indian Wells/Miami double for the third time. It was only Roddick's third win against Federer in 24 attempts.
Right from the start, both Federer and Roddick were trading service holds and the first set unsurprisingly went to a tiebreak. The 'breaker was also close but Roddick got the one mini-break he needed after Roger failed to put away a tough overhead and Andy passed him. In the second set, Roger stormed out early and broke Andy's serve three consecutive times to take it 6-1, in a wild turn of events from the first set. At the start of the third set, with all the momentum on his side, Fed could not take advantage of 4 break point chances at 1-0. This would prove to be costly as Andy played one of the best return games of his life right after and broke the Federer serve. In the end, that was all he needed, as he held his serve four straight times to close out the victory in two hours on the dot.
Before the match started, I knew it was going to be close, based on their previous two matches in Miami. Both of those, in 2008 and 2009, were three setters, and in '08 Roddick won to pick up his first victory over Fed in five years. No matter what happened in the first set, I figured we were going three. There is something about Miami that really fires Roddick up and he plays energized, inspired, and aggressive, especially against Roger. He had every reason to feel terrible after the 6-1 drubbing in the 2nd set, but he didn't. He kept fighting, and went all-out to earn the elusive break he needed. He was definitely inspired and was given motivation from the passing of his agent in October, Ken Meyerson. He was from Miami and his wife was there, and that was why Andy was looking up to the sky after victory.
Roger did not play a bad match, and it is certainly a loss that I am alright with, even though I am disappointed. He was only broken once, and did play some spectacular tennis in that 2nd set. Did he play his best? Of course not. But a lot of what Fed was doing can be attributed to the way Andy was playing. I think in the third set, Roger was shaken up by not breaking Andy at the start, and then he was caught off guard when Andy threw caution to the wind and threw everything he had at Roger. But Fed didn't go away after that, and he forced Andy to hold his serve the rest of the way to win. Given Andy's poor record against Roger, that is not an easy thing to do, and Andy was up to the challenge. I give him full credit for beating Roger, because he was spectacular. Overall, it was a high quality match with great serving and superb shot-making from both. Regardless of the outcome, tennis was treated to a special night.
As for Fed, perhaps this loss is a blessing in disguise. He has played a lot of tennis so far this year and hopefully the added time off will do him good heading into the clay court season. In my estimation, he did look a little burned out in the Harrison match, and even more so against Roddick. We knew the courts play extremely slow in Miami and Fed did seem to have a tougher time than usual winning free points off serve and getting the ball through the court. That was especially the case against Andy, although in fairness the American did hit the ball with more aggression than he had maybe since the Wimbledon 2009 final.
Roger commented on the toll of playing so many matches.:
"Yeah. Maybe 30 matches for the season. Just feeling like it's taken its toll a bit, which is normal. But
I've played more tired in the past, so this was not the most tired I
have ever been, but you just start to feel it a bit. I didn't just get
the lucky break today that I got in Indian Wells. And, yeah, I mean,
I regret missing those opportunities and giving myself maybe a chance
for tomorrow. Then you never know how things all of a sudden turn out
in the tournament. Yeah, it is what it is tonight, and I'll deal with it the way I always have."
He also spoke highly of Andy, showing the immense respect he has for him:
"I feel like I lost against a former No. 1. That's how it felt, not that
I lost against a guy ranked 30 in the world. That ranking is not real,
so it was a tough second round. I knew that in the start, and
particularly here in Miami where I lost against him in the past. So I
was aware of that, and I didn't underestimate Andy at all."
After the Harrison match, he did speak about the threats Andy poses, and all of those threats seemed to be very apparent in their match, as Andy was on his game and very sharp.
"The head to head doesn't play a massive factor for me in every match I
go in against Andy, because I know there's always a lot in Andy's
racquet depending on how he serves. And, you know, if I don't play
well, I know I won't win. So the pressure is there. That's what he can create with his game. This is why I never take a match lightly against him."
I wish Andy the best for the rest of the year. If he can keep up that kind of form and aggression, there is a chance he could make it back to the top 15, which would be great for him and American tennis.
In other round three action....
Novak Djokovic got through his friend and countryman Viktor Troicki 63 64, as expected. Juan Martin del Potro defeated Marin Cilic 63 76(3). David Ferrer also won in straight sets, defeating Julien Benneteau 76(5) 64. Juan Monaco came back from a break down in the 3rd set against Gael Monfils to win 46 63 64.
Mardy Fish got by big South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets, 64 63. A meeting between Fish and Federer seems very likely in the quarterfinals. Nicolas Almagro avenged his loss to Verdasco in Acapulco by beating his fellow countryman 63 64. Richard Gasquet came through against Albert Ramos 62 57 63. I hadn't really heard of Ramos before this year and when I think of him, I think of Carlos Ramos, the chair umpire. Now wherever I look, I see his name in every tournament I follow in at least the 3rd round. From the looks of it, the 24 year-old is quickly rising and I could see him becoming top 40 by the end of the year (he is currently at #56).
The biggest upset of the tournament saw Grigor Dimitrov taking out Tomas Berdych 63 26 64. It was Dimitrov's first win over a top 10 player in his career. I really like Grigor, and I hope that this victory can jumpstart his career in a positive direction. He has a very fun game to watch so the more we can see of him on tour, the better it will be. However, I am not that fond of comparing him to Federer. Is that comparison only made because Grigor has a one-handed backhand? To me, he far more resembles Nicolas Almagro than Roger Federer. I wish him nothing but success though, and he will be a bright star in tennis for years to come alongside other young guns like Harrison, Raonic, Tomic, Sock, and Dolgopolov, and others.
Rafael Nadal cruised through Radek Stepanek 62 62. The match was never slated to be close to begin with, when you factor in Stepanek's net rusher game and the very slow hardcourt.
What would have been an incredible match between Andy Murray and Milos Raonic was halted because the Canadian withdrew due to an ankle injury. It was highly disappointing since Raonic would have had a legitimate chance to beat Andy, but it was not to be. Even though he is still very young, I really fear for the young Canadian's career. He is only 21 years old but he has already sustained numerous injuries including three in the last year alone. I really don't want to go here, but he is reminding me of Mario Ancic the more and more he gets hurt. I sincerely hope he doesn't end up like Mario because he has a bright future and has Slam-winning potential I believe.
John Isner, who had been slated to meet Rafael Nadal in a potential quarterfinal, bowed out in disappointing fashion against #19 seed Florian Mayer 64 64. This is a very disappointing result and certainly not a good sign after his fantastic week in Indian Wells in which he vaulted into the top 10 for the first time. Isner, it appears, still needs to work on his consistency week in and week out throughout the season.
In other results on the day, Tsonga got past Kohlschreiber in two tough sets and it was the same for Gilles Simon, as he got by Jurgen Melzer in a similarly close contest. Janko Tipsarevic passed a stern test from Alexandr Dolgopolov, winning 64 57 62. Kei Nishikori advanced to a meeting with Nadal after a straight sets win over Lukas Rosol.
The 4th round will be played on Tuesday, and the matches are as follows:
(1) Novak Djokovic vs (17) Richard Gasquet
(2) Rafael Nadal vs (16) Kei Nishikori
(4) Andy Murray vs (13) Gilles Simon
(5) David Ferrer vs (11) David Ferrer
(6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs (19) Florian Mayer
(8) Mardy Fish vs (12) Nicolas Almagro
(9) Janko Tipsarevic vs Grigor Dimitrov
(21) Juan Monaco vs (31) Andy Roddick
It should be a great day of tennis, although it would have been better with Roger there.
Until next time, Kyle.