Miami Masters: Somdev battles through; Djokovic in devastating form
Somdev Devvarman must have been a warrior in a past life. “The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure,” said the great American coach, Vince Lombardi who would have happily embraced the fighting Indian into his camp just for possessing an undying spirit to do battle irrespective of whether he carried the tools or not. In yet another thrilling display of die hard tennis, the 254th ranked Assamese star made a mockery of the rankings by coming from behind for a second match in a row to oust the 80th ranked Eduoard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a two hour 20 minute encounter that was never short on drama. Meanwhile, the Indian’s next opponent – a certain Novak Djokovic made light work of the Nadal slayer Lukas Rosol with a 6-1, 6-0 thumping in less than an hour to progress to the third round of the Sony Open Tennis in Miami.
Somdev survived three break points in the third game but finished at the wrong end of a twelve point seventh game – where Roger-Vasselin finally converted his fifth opportunity in the set to take a 4-3 lead. The Frenchman then served out the 43 minute first set on his second set point. Despite the early set back, Somdev survived a tight first game before clinching a break in the next game of the second set to halt his opponent in his tracks, racing away to a 3-0 lead.
The Indian though almost squandered the advantage when he failed to capitalise on any of the three set points as he sought to serve out the set in the ninth game. But after being broken by the Frenchman, Somdev returned the favour immediately by breaking serve in the tenth game to push the match into a decisive set. As the tension mounted for the two players, it was Somdev who earned the first opportunity to take command of the third set.
But Eduoard fought back from 15-40 in the fourth game to survive three break points before holding serve to 2-2. Opportunity knocked on the Frenchman’s door in the eleventh game, but he squandered a virtual match point when he failed to convert the break point. The tie-breaker loomed, but nerves took hold of Roger-Vasselin who surrendered his serve in the next game to help Somdev to another memorable victory. The big prize for the Indian is a first career match-up against the world No.1 Djokovic.
The Serbian was in imperious form as he mocked his way past the hapless Rosol who could do no more than switch ends and survive the devastation with a straight face. The only time Rosol made an impression was at the end of each set – with Djokovic serving for the set, the Czech had two break points each in the first and second sets but failed on both occasions to convert and stretch the contest. With Rosol managing to just send 41% of his first serves into play, he barely stood a chance against the class of his opponent who saved all four break points faced.
“It is a great start,” said Djokovic. “After Indian Wells, I tried to rest. There are different conditions here, but tonight was perfect for tennis. I enjoyed every moment of it and I love this court.”
Juan Martin Del Potro disappointed his growing band of fans with an unseemly exit from the tournament. The fifth seed had a bad day at the office as he stumbled to a 7-5, 6-1 defeat at the hands of the German Tobias Kamke, who advanced to the third round of a ATP Masters Series 1000 event for the first time in his career. “I was excited to play here,” said the Argentine, “but it was just a bad day, and he play really well.” Jurgen Melzer will be the beneficiary of Kamke’s adventure in the third round.
Wild card entrant James Blake continued his good run, inflicting a stinging defeat to the in form Frenchman Julien Benneteau. The 34-year-old American served 6 aces as he earned an easy 6-2, 6-3 passage into the third round, where he will take on Albert Ramos. The 3rd seeded Ferrer did not have to lift his racket with Dmitry Tursunov offering a walkover due to illness. Ferrer’s next opponent is Italian Fabio Fognini.
The 11th seeded Giles Simon overcame a testy match against Lleyton Hewitt to progress to the next round. Simon got the job done in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 but with both men playing sub-par tennis, it was an error strewn match that contained as many as seven breaks of serve. The Frenchman’s next opponent is Grega Zemlja who got past Florian Mayer 6-3, 7-6(3).
The much awaited contest between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Nikolay Davydenko failed to live up to expectations. The 19th seed made mincemeat of his compatriot, needing just 61 minutes to trounce the veteran 6-2, 6-3. Dolgopolov lost just two points on his first serve even as Davydenko threw in four double faults, clearly struggling for rhythm. Another interesting tussle with a veteran awaits Dolgopolov in the third round. The Russian will play Tommy Haas, a three set winner over Igor Sjisling.
The embattled Janko Tipsarevic finally managed to halt the landslide that was threatening to sink him. Breaking a sequence of five successive losses, the Serbian finally won a match – with a convincing 6-2, 6-4 effort over Dudi Sela. A tough challenge awaits him though, as his next opponent is a lanky South African who seems to be in the midst of an impressive run. Kevin Anderson had taken down David Ferrer and Gilles Simon to make the quarter-finals in Indian Wells. He was a 6-3, 7-6(4) winner over Horacio Zeballos, the man who put it past Rafael Nadal in the Spaniard’s comeback event. Xavier Malisse and Kei Nishikori also advanced through to the third round.
The feature match for Saturday will be the promising encounter between Bernard Tomic and Andy Murray, especially if the Aussie can bring his focus and game to the court. The contest between Thomaz Bellucci and Jerzy Janowicz is also full of potential entertainment.