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Miami Masters: Djokovic too strong for Somdev; Leander, Mahesh exit too

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 24:  Novak Djokovic of  Serbia walks off court after shaking hands at the net after his straight victory against Somdev Devvarman of India during their third round match at the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center

KEY BISCAYNE, FL – MARCH 24: Novak Djokovic of Serbia walks off court after shaking hands at the net after his straight victory against Somdev Devvarman of India during their third round match at the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center

Somdev Devvarman’s promising run at the Sony Open Tennis in Key Biscayne was brought to an end by the irrepressible Novak Djokovic, who continues marching toward his third straight title at the Miami Masters. The world No. 1 packed too many weapons for the spirited Indian, who succumbed to a 6-2, 6-4 defeat in 70 minutes despite fighting hard to hold his own against the dominant Serbian. David Ferrer also had a straight forward 6-1, 7-5 victory over Fabio Fognini in an hour and 15 minutes to advance into the fourth round.

Somdev made a nervy start, probably weighed down by the task of facing the world No. 1, and Djokovic took immediate advantage. Somdev gifted an early break with a double fault in the second game as the Serbian raced away to a 3-0 lead. Djokovic moved a step closer to his 14th consecutive match when he reeled off four straight winners to break serve and take the set in the eighth game.

The Indian was far more assured in the second set, but even then lacked the firepower to challenge the evidently superior Serbian. Somdev succumbed at love in the fifth game, when a searing forehand down the line winner from Djokovic sealed an easy break. The Indian recovered quickly to hold at love in the seventh game with an ace to prevent further damage as he hung on for dear life.

In typically resilient style, Somdev mounted spirited resistance with Djokovic serving for the match in the tenth game. Amidst gusty winds, Djokovic struggled with his first serve and Somdev earned his first and only break point of the match when the Serbian’s forehand down the line flailed wide. But the opportunity was wasted when Somdev found the net with his forehand on the next point. Two more errors from the Indian’s racket took the match to its expected conclusion.

Djokovic fired 17 winners and lost just three points off his first serve in another dominant display despite windy conditions. “It was very difficult to kind of get into a rhythm because you couldn’t really serve at 100 % and you had to go more for precision and put twice as much effort into the step adjustments because of the windy conditions,” said Djokovic. “All in all, I’m just happy to get through the rough day.”

Djokovic will take on the veteran Tommy Haas for a place in the quarters. The German needed just 77 minutes to upend Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-2 to earn the right to take on the world No. 1. The Russian had his opportunities, but converted just one of the eight break chances. Haas pulled out as many as 13 aces from his bag of experience to bail himself out and score a surprisingly easy victory over the 19th seed.

Djokovic will face Tommy Haas in the next round

Djokovic will face Tommy Haas in the next round

Ferrer took his third victory over Fognini this year by breaking the Italian twice in each set. Ferrer will reprise his fourth round encounter with Kei Nishikori at the Australian Open to keep his campaign alive, seeking a third title this year. Nishikori ousted Xavier Malisse in straight sets 6-2, 7-5 to reach the fourth round. Jurgen Melzer also needed three sets to overcome Tobias Kamke, as he came from behind for a 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 victory. The eleventh seeded Gilles Simon had a relatively easier 6-4, 6-4 outing against Grega Zemlja.

The celebrated wild card run of James Blake came to an abrupt end at the hands of Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The little known Spaniard struck 23 winners and 6 aces to outlast the gallant American 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 in a little less than two hours. Janko Tipsarevic won a second straight match when he overcame a difficult test against Kevin Anderson. The Serbian battled through for a hard fought 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 to ensure he extended his stay into the second week.

Overall, it was a disappointing day for the Indian contingent. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi followed Somdev on the exit trail with their respective partners. Bhupathi and Daniel Nestor combined to serve five double faults in a surprisingly one sided 3-6, 3-6 loss against Nicholas Almagro and Oliver Marach. Paes and Michael Llodra fought to the bitter end against Grigor Dimitrov and Frederik Nielsen, but succumbed in two tie-breakers, 6-7(6), 6-7(4).

The carnage on Sunday leaves the Indian interest in the hands of Rohan Bopanna. The Bangalorean is scheduled to face a stiff test in the form of Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers in the company of his regular partner, Rajeev Ram. However, the big show on Monday is the match between Andy Murray and Dimitrov in the third match of the day session on the Stadium court. The night session also features a likely war of attrition between the two giants – John Isner and Marin Cilic.

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