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Djokovic slumps to a shock defeat against Haas

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 26:  Tommy Haas of Germany is congratulated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia after their match during the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center

KEY BISCAYNE, FL – MARCH 26: Tommy Haas of Germany is congratulated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia after their match during the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center

The Miami Masters was getting into a sedentary rut. And the ATP Master Series event needed something to shake up things a little. The night finally came alive when the inspired veteran Tommy Haas obliged by delivering a sensational upset. Novak Djokovic was treated to a shocking defeat at the hands of Haas, who is going all out to prove that the old dog is still capable of conjuring some new tricks. At almost 35, the German became the oldest player in 30 years to defeat the World No. 1, as he put on a commanding performance built around razor-sharp passing shots and age-defying footwork at the net. At one stage, Haas won six games in a row as he took the match 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes of spectacular tennis that left the Stadium court shaking with excitement.

Djokovic courted trouble early, letting himself become annoyed by the raucous spectators in his second service game. Haas though was having a perfect start, holding twice without losing a point. At 30-30 in the fifth game, Djokovic embraced the net with his normally reliable forehand twice in a row to hand the first break of the contest to the German. The situation worsened for the Serbian when Haas earned a break point in the seventh game with a textbook forehand volley winner. Djokovic sought to emulate Haas, but failed to control his backhand volley on the next point even as he rushed the net. A couple of service winners enabled Haas to seal the set in the next game. This stat will tell you the story of the first set better than most – Haas had 7 winners and was aided by 12 unforced errors by Djokovic as the German wrapped up the set in just 28 minutes.

With his back to the wall, Djokovic pushed himself into a darker corner when he made four unforced errors – two off either flank – to surrender a break in the first game of the second set. When Haas consolidated for a 2-0 lead, the German had won his seventh straight game. Haas threatened to shut the Serbian out of the contest, but Djokovic fought hard to hold serve  after playing a marathon 18-point game. Finally, the Serbian made a dent on the German’s dominance when he struck a brilliant forehand cross court winner to clinch the sixth game and get the set back on serve at 3-3.

The decisive moment came in the ninth game – Djokovic flung a forehand long to offer Haas his ninth break point of the match. Haas followed a neatly timed approach to the net, before clinching the game with a sharp backhand volley that left the Serbian without a chance. A forehand winner down the line helped Haas break a 14-match streak for Djokovic at Miami, where he was seeking a third straight title. The only other time Haas had beaten a World No. 1 was in 1999, when he defeated Andre Agassi 6-0, 6-7(2), 6-4 in the quarters of the Grand Slam Cup in Germany.

The French are on a roll too. Gilles Simon is having a good year so far and the 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Janko Tipsarevic enabled the 11th seed to reach the quarters for a third time this season. Simon has also reached the semis at Rotterdam and Marseille this February. The World No. 13 came from behind to wipe out the first set deficit before eventually prevailing in two hours and 32 minutes. Tipsarevic refused to quit even at the fag end – the last game alone lasted almost 15 minutes before the Serbian succumbed.

Richard Gasquet played a thrilling three-setter against Nicolas Almagro in what was easily the best match of the day. The 8th seeded Frenchman overcame a two-break deficit at 1-4 in the first set to claw back to even terms. Almagro then had to scramble to save two set points on his serve in the tenth game to ensure that the set was decided on a tie-breaker. In the breaker, Almagro won five points in a row before clinching it 7-3 to bag the set.

The second set was an even battle and an entertaining ninth game lasted 16 points before Almagro managed to hold serve to 5-5 after five deuces. Gasquet, however, refused to relent, earning the vital break in the eleventh game as he went on to clinch the set at the second time of asking in the next game. The players exchanged breaks in the seventh and eighth game of the third set, before the decider slipped into the second tie-breaker of the match. Gasquet raced away to a 4-0 lead, eventually clinching a spot in the last eight with a 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3) victory in two hours and 42 minutes.

Richard Gasquet bean Nicolas Almagro is what was the best match of the day

Richard Gasquet bean Nicolas Almagro is what was the best match of the day

Marin Cilic reached the quarters with a hard fought 7-5, 7-6(4) victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to prevent a third Frenchman from reaching the last eight of the Sony Open Tennis in Key Biscayne. Andy Murray had a relatively straight forward outing, as he waltzed his way past the Italian Andreas Seppi. The Scot was dominant in the 6-2, 6-4 victory that took an hour and 27 minutes. Murray saved the only break point he faced and broke serve three times – twice in the first and once in the second set to advance to the quarters.

David Ferrer defeated Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 as he continued his quest for a second Masters Series title, having won the Paris Masters last year. Tomas Berdych annihilated the last American standing, outplaying Sam Querrey 6-1, 6-1 in just 52 minutes. Jurgen Melzer had to come from behind to score a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Albert Ramos to complete the line-up for the quarter-finals.

Quarter-Finals

[3] David Ferrer (ESP) v Jurgen Melzer (AUT)

[15] Tommy Haas (GER) v [11] Gilles Simon (FRA)

[8] Richard Gasquet (FRA) v [4] Tomas Berdych (CZE)

[9] Marin Cilic (CRO) v [2] Andy Murray (GBR)

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