The match that had been the talk of the town ever since the men’s singles draw of the Miami Open was announced, is finally happening! 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro won his first round, beating countryman Guido Pella, 6-0, 7-6(4) on Wednesday to set up a blockbuster second-round showdown with World No. 3 Roger Federer.
12 months ago it was the same stage where the Argentine former World No. 4 had bowed out to Vasek Pospisil that started his latest of his wrist surgery-induced hiatus. He made his comeback at this February’s Delray Beach Open. This is just the third tournament for the ‘Tower of Tandil’ and his much-anticipated 21st career encounter with Federer will be intriguing given the fact that even the Swiss has had an injury layoff as well.
The 17-time Major winner had to undergo an arthroscopic surgery on his knee after a fall the day after he lost the Australian Open semi-finals to Novak Djokovic. The Miami Open will thus mark his first tournament since the year’s opening Slam.
Federer leads the head-to-head 15-5 with their very last match being a thrilling 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 victory in favour of the Swiss maestro at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals.
Zverev, Fritz win
18-year-olds dominating the Tour is becoming a regular affair thanks to a rising crop of talented teenagers both in the ATP and the WTA circuit. Two of the most promising boys from this group kept the flag flying high for the 18-year-old club at Crandon Park on Wednesday.
World No. 52 Alexander Zverev, who squandered a match point to lose to Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells last week, got back to winning ways with a 7-6(3), 7-6(4) victory over fellow 18-year-old Michael Mmoh.
The 81st ranked Taylor Fritz was the other one who breezed past Italian veteran Simone Bolelli, 6-4, 6-2.
However, luck ran out for another 18-year-old as Russian wildcard Andrey Rublev fell 4-6, 2-6 to Inigo Cervantes.
Among the others, veteran Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers both won their first round matches. Pospisil too triumphed in a third set tie-break over Diego Schwartzman.
WTA – Bouchard falls in first round
The resurgent Eugenie Bouchard failed to replicate her early season magic as she tumbled out in the first round on Wednesday. The former Wimbledon runner-up fell 4-6, 6-3, 2-6 to two-time doubles Major winner Lucie Hradecka.
The 22-year-old Canadian, who has reached two WTA finals this year, appeared to have the momentum on her side as she grabbed the second set, breaking the Czech veteran twice. But Hradecka managed to come back strongly in the decider as Bouchard crumbled under the barrage of her aggressive returns.
Up next for her is World No. 9 Roberta Vinci, who had been in impressive form the past few weeks, winning the title at St Petersburg.
Meanwhile, 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova too emerged victorious on Day 2 of the Miami Open. The Slovak lost a close first set 4-6 to Johanna Larsson of Sweden but rebounded to win the first round match, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Her next opponent is the fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, who has been struggling since the start of the 2016 season.
Among the others, rising star Caroline Garcia, whom Andy Murray had once picked as the future World No. 1, toughed out a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. So did American Christina McHale, who edged past Japanese World No. 44 Misaki Doi, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to book a second-round encounter with the World No. 1 Serena Williams.
Former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer earned a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Italian Karin Knapp while British No. 2 Heather Watson sizzled past Petra Cetkovska, 6-1, 6-0.
Qualifier and two-time doubles Slam champion Elena Vesnina too entered the second round, prevailing 7-5, 6-3 over fellow qualifier Jana Cepelova. Another qualifier who won is Kristyna Pliskova, twin sister of World No. 14 and Indian wells semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova.
In a clash between two players who had lost a chunk of the season due to injuries, World No. 42 Alize Cornet triumphed over Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva, 6-4, 7-5. A back injury had rendered Cornet out since the Australian Open. As for the former World No. 42 Voskoboeva, she was out for a massive 22 months, dealing with a series of stress fractures and she made her return to the WTA Tour in late February at Monterrey.
Cornet will meet World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.Published 24 Mar 2016, 20:28 IST