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Updated: 26 min 22 sec ago

Thiem, Zverev, Nishikori Give Back During Miami Unites Day

1 hour 57 min ago

Before main draw action at the Miami Open presented by Itau, some of the most recognisable ATP Tour players lent their time on Tuesday to Miami Open Unites.

The day of service was dedicated to giving back to the South Florida community. Events were held at the Hard Rock Stadium and locations throughout the greater Miami area.

Five-time doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan visited Baptist Health Children’s Hospital and Cancer Center to spend time with kids at the facility.

“The kids were very nice and upbeat. They’ve been dealt unfortunate hands and the way they’re dealing with it is inspiring,” said Bob. “It’s great to give back and if we can brighten their day a little bit, it’s worth it for us.”

Alexander Zverev, defending champion John Isner and Roberto Bautista Agut visited the Greater Humane Society of Miami. The players groomed the animals in order to increase their chances for adoption. The strategy worked as Zverev ended up adopting one of the puppies!

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Kei Nishikori, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios and Nicolas Jarry led a community tennis clinic and Q&A at the Hard Rock Stadium for UNICEF’s Kid Power program. Members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School boys' and girls' tennis teams participated in the event, which also included discussions on overcoming adversity and being a positive force in the community. A shooting at the high school in February 2018 killed 17 students and staff members.

BNP Paribas Open champion Dominic Thiem, Miomir Kecmanovic and Guido Pella helped repair a home by painting and landscaping. Their efforts supported the work of Rebuilding Together, an organisation that repairs and rebuilds homes for Miami-Dade County’s senior citizens, veterans and disabled individuals.

Lastly, Grigor Dimitrov, David Ferrer and Borna Coric served lunch to residents living at the shelter of the Miami Rescue Mission. The organisation provides food, shelter and programming to needy South Florida residents.

Zverev Adopts Puppy: ‘Love At First Sight’

2 hours 22 min ago

Alexander Zverev went all in during a visit to the Humane Society of Greater Miami on Tuesday.

A scheduled half-hour promotional visit to the dog and cat adoption facility turned into a significantly longer commitment when the Miami Open second seed left with a two-month-old terrier mix, Pop.

"Sascha came into the room, Pop walked over to him and they had a major, major cuddle session. It was love at first site,” said Jossie Aguirre, Humane Society of Greater Miami Director of Marketing and Special Events.

"He's still in my arm [and is ] very calm,” Zverev said during his visit with fellow 2018 Miami Open finalist John Isner. “He seems quite happy and I'm very happy to take him home."

So... there’s a new member of the Zverev family thanks to @humanemiami.

Nikoloz Basilashvili: Putting Together A Jigsaw

5 hours 11 min ago

Nikoloz Basilashvili is a perfectionist, and also an artist. He looks to strike the cleanest ball, put together a combination of shots that is devastating, and play the perfect game. But tennis is about the optimum, following a plan and getting the job done as efficiently as possible. “I am not a big fan of wanting to be perfect,” says Jan de Witt, his highly experienced German coach. “I know I have the reputation of wanting to be super precise, but you can’t be. You have to go for the simple solution and not over-complicate a match. He really likes to do things perfectly, and wants to make it look easy, so he struggles to win.”

So the 27-year-old Georgian, who turned pro in 2008, and once tried to kill every ball over consistency point-in, point-out, faces a daily fight against his natural instinct. “I’m understanding how tennis really works,” says the softly spoken Basilashvili, who never steps onto court to strike a ball without a bandana — or, to improvise, a tennis grip — firmly tied around his head. “It’s not just about hitting tennis balls or fitness, it’s working on the mental side of the game as well. It’s very important in this sport to know how to handle the nerves in important moments. I am still getting that experience.

“Until 22 or 23, I was wild. I was not professional in my approach. I knew I wanted to play well, but I wasn’t capable of playing at this level. I had no game plan to get here. I knew I was missing something. I was around [World No.] 50-100 for a long time, for two to three years. I needed somebody to trust 100 per cent.”

For years, the son of a former Georgian national ballet dancer, Nodar, drifted and never quite left his comfort zone: a product of financial constraints; of not always having the right people — or fully trusting those — around him; and of having to come up with ideas to improve his own game. Stephen Koon, who coached Basilashvili as a 16-year-old in Granite Bay, Sacramento, and once more when he was financially able to employ a travelling coach in 2005-06, recalls his initial impression, “I loved his raw power, how he just crushed the ball. He had an extremely high physical tolerance — he didn’t mind the hard work at all — and straight away I knew this guy didn’t fear anything or anyone when it came to tennis.”

The talent was never questioned. But Basilashvili, who was first handed a tennis racquet as a five-year-old, shortly before another Tbilisi son, Irakli Labadze, finished runner-up to Roger Federer in the 1998 junior Wimbledon final, recalls, “There were moments when my father and I would sleep in our car for a couple of weeks. It’s been an interesting journey. I was training in bad conditions and I couldn’t even find a sponsor, so I got Russian citizenship. There was a time when we slept in a car for a month on the junior tour and we also slept in tents at tournaments. When I was 20, 21, I almost started tennis again really from scratch, as mentally I was down. All these kinds of things really make you realise that the bad times weren’t for nothing. It’s made me stronger and hungry to play tennis at a high level.”

The decisions, taken out of necessity with the full sport of his father, helped the talented junior extend his vision far beyond Georgia, a country of football, weight-lifting fanatics. For Basilashvili, who values loyalty and honesty the most, it was a period of great frustration. “I was only thinking about having enough money to get to tournaments,” adds Basilashvili. “I was thinking about booking tennis courts, getting tennis balls and a practice partner. It was purely survival. It was only when I qualified for Wimbledon in 2015, and won two matches in the main draw, that heralded a big change in my mind. I was playing good tennis, but I couldn’t get beyond the Top 50. I knew I needed a mentor to help me with that. I knew Jan’s tactics and how he coached. I liked him and that’s why I contacted him.”

His meteoric rise over the past 13 months from No. 89 to a career-high No. 18 in the ATP Rankings this month, has centred on Basilashvili’s hard-working alliance with Gilles Simon’s former coach De Witt, who has been opening his charges eyes to what was possible since June 2018. Following a successful one-week trial, Basilashvili showcased his hard-working ethic, but lost eight of his 12 matches under De Witt’s guidance. “What convinced me was how he reacted in training and I realised this guy was really serious to do what it takes to take his game to the next level,” says De Witt.

The results soon came, including two ATP 500-level trophies in 2018 at the Hamburg Open (d. Leonardo Mayer), where he qualified, and the China Open in Beijing (d. Juan Martin del Potro), which represented the third Top 10 victory of his career. “I’d been in finals before, I’d played in Kitzbuhel [in July 2016] and Memphis [in February 2017],” says Basilashvili. “But to win a title is different, especially a [ATP] 500. It gives you a lot of confidence, which is one of the most important things in tennis — knowing when you step on the court you can win this match.

“With a plan, being more professional and trusting my coach completely, I got direction. I needed to win an ATP Tour title as validation of my work — that I was moving in the right direction — and when I did in Hamburg and Beijing, it relaxed me and left me really motivated.”

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With a big forehand, solid backhand and the ability to hit through players in all areas of the courts, Basilashvili always had the technique and physically strength to hurt the biggest players. But his perfectionist and critical nature, heightened by not having a coach for so many years; and his wish to make the game look easy, was also a hindrance to his development. “If I could talk to my 21-year-old self, I would not change my game style, but more my mental approach,” says Basilashvili. “I’m not looking for results, but to give 100 per cent on and off the court. I want to maximise what I have, so when I do retire I know I left no stone unturned.”

De Witt, a coach with a reputation of being “super precise”, who has a database with the tactical and technical details of 400 players, is fully focused on the future with Basilashvili, who recently turned 27. “We had a clear picture about where we wanted to go,” admits De Witt. “It surprised me how fast he progressed. I have never had a player that has learned as quickly as him. He has a very special talent about learning when it comes to biomechanics and movement. It’s very unusual and it’s something I didn’t know when I first started working with him. He was learning complex things quickly. He has the discipline to work hard, and if you push him he will do so.”

Koon remembers the “fearlessness, when Nik saw his name next to the seeds in the draw or when he loved to play the big players” and while Basilashvili is now gaining mental consistency in preparation for every match, frailties persist. “The difference in levels are not very big,” says Basilashvili. “But the difference is I have to be ready for every match, not to be off slightly in a match. That’s what we’re working on, to be able to play against lower ranked players with the same intensity as against the top players.”

“I know he will not be satisfied until he makes the Top 10, and I absolutely would not be surprised at all when he does it,” admits Koon, who assisted his former charge again in December 2017 at the Impact Tennis Academy, in a pre-season camp with Hyeon Chung, Yen-Hsun Lu, Yoshihito Nishioka and Yuki Bhambri in Thailand.

“To be World No. 20 was not a goal for him or me,” says De Witt. “The goal of being No. 10 is not a goal, it will come if we do the things we do. Nothing has been short-term. We have a goal to win a Grand Slam title. This does not come in the short term. I am surprised, and I am happy he is learning quickly, but it’s important that we have to do all of the steps. There are no short cuts [and] it’s challenging the whole time. There is not one easy day, there will always be problems. It’s about maximising the potential of this player. The potential, for Nik, if we put everything together, is to go for a Grand Slam title.”

After years of deciding what's best to make his way up the ATP Rankings, Basilashvili is now efficiently going about his job on the court, with the full support of his family — Neka, his wife of five years, and beloved three-year-old son, Lukas — and De Witt. Memories of his struggle may endure, but the tennis education of Georgia’s lone world-class player continues

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Novak Djokovic's History In Miami

5 hours 49 min ago

Novak Djokovic first competed at the Miami Open presented by Itaú as an 18-year-old in 2006. Thirteen years later, the 31-year-old is trying to break his tie with former World No. 1 Andre Agassi for the most titles at the tournament by claiming his seventh.

Djokovic will be the top seed at the event’s new venue: Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The World No. 1 will try to claim his second title of the year after emerging victorious at the Australian Open in January.

Fast Facts
- Djokovic won his first of 32 ATP Masters 1000 titles in Miami in 2007.
- Djokovic’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head victory against Nadal came en route to that Miami triumph in 2007, defeating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes.
- In 2007, at just 19, Djokovic became the youngest champion in Miami’s tournament history. No younger player has triumphed at a Masters 1000 event since.
- Djokovic has captured four of his six Miami titles without dropping a set (2007, 2012, 2014, 2016). A combined 12 of his victories in those four events came against opponents inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings.
- Djokovic has lifted more trophies (6) in Miami than he as at any other Masters 1000 event. He has triumphed five times in Indian Wells and four times each in Rome, Canada, Shanghai and Paris.

Five Djokovic Stats From Miami
First Match:
2006, Djokovic def. Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1, 6-3
First Title: 2007, Djokovic def. Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Record: 42-6
Top 10 record : 11-2
6-0 Sets Won: 10

Most Recent Appearance: 2018
Djokovic arrived in Indian Wells after a stunning loss against Japan’s Taro Daniel in the second round in Indian Wells, struggling in his recovery from a right elbow procedure. The Serbian then lost to Benoit Paire in his opening match in Miami in straight sets. It was the first time Djokovic had lost three consecutive matches since 2007.

But Djokovic was not down for long, winning two ATP Masters 1000 titles last year (Cincinnati & Shanghai) and two Grand Slams (Wimbledon & US Open) en route to finishing as the No. 1 player in the year-end ATP Rankings.

Seed at the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itaú: No. 1

Did You Know?
Djokovic competed alongside former World No. 1 Andy Murray in doubles in Miami in 2011. Sergiy Stakhovsky and Mikhail Youzhny defeated the Serbian-Scot team in the first round in a Match Tie-break.

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Roger Federer's History In Miami

5 hours 52 min ago

Roger Federer arrives at the Miami Open presented by Itaú with plenty of momentum, fresh off his 100th tour-level title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and a trip to the BNP Paribas Open final. 

The 37-year-old Swiss will be competing in Miami for the 18th time, and he will be pursuing his fourth title at the tournament.

Fast Facts
- Federer and Rafael Nadal’s first two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings came in Miami, with Nadal emerging victorious from their first match in 2004. The Spaniard needed just 70 minutes to advance in straight sets.

- Federer has lost the first two sets in a best-of-five set tour-level final eight times. The only match he came back to win was the 2005 Miami final against Nadal.

- The Swiss star’s first Masters 1000 final came in Miami in 2002. Former World No. 1 Andre Agassi, who owns a record-tying six Miami titles (also Novak Djokovic), defeated Federer in four sets.

- Federer has not competed in doubles in Miami since 2003. But that year, he partnered Belarusian Max Mirnyi to the title, dropping just one set en route to lifting the trophy.

- Miami is one of four Masters 1000 events that Federer has triumphed at three times or more. He has also done so in Indian Wells, Hamburg and Cincinnati.

Five Federer Stats From Miami
First Match:
1999, Kenneth Carlsen def. Federer 7-5, 7-6(4)

First Title: 2005, Federer def. Rafael Nadal 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1

Record: 50-14

Top 10 record : 9-5

6-0 Sets Won: 1

Most Recent Appearance: 2018
Federer is the most recent player to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ — winning Indian Wells and Miami in the same year — in 2017. But after the Swiss failed to convert three championship points in the Indian Wells last year,

Federer lost his Miami opener against World No. 175 Thanasi Kokkinakis. It was the first time the Swiss had dropped consecutive matches since 2014.

Seed at the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau: No. 4

Did You Know?
Federer has won three matches in final-set tie-breaks in Miami, with two of them coming in back-to-back battles in the 2017 quarter-finals (def. Berdych) and semi-finals (def. Kyrgios).

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Take Our Miami Open Presented By Itaú Quiz

5 hours 53 min ago

Click here to stay informed all year with tennis news from the ATP Tour.

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Hot Shot: Santillan Goes Full Extension In Zhangjiagang

7 hours 17 min ago
Watch as Akira Santillan risks life and limb with this diving Hot Shot at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Zhangjiagang, China.

Cino Marchese: 1937-2019

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 7:50pm

Cino Marchese, a marketing pioneer, tournament director, talent scout and manager, passed away in Rome on Sunday aged 81.

Marchese, who was head of Italian operations for the International Management Group (IMG), the global sports and management company, was involved in top-level skiing, tennis, football and basketball for more than 25 years. He assisted the careers of Adriano Panatta, Bjorn Borg, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati and Goran Ivanisevic (tennis); footballers Roberto Baggio and Paolo Rossi; in addition to Olympic and world champion skiers Deborah Compagnoni and Alberto Tomba.

Nicknamed 'The Silver Fox', Marchese, a tall, genial, grey-haired former basketball player, brought men’s professional tennis to Palermo in 1979 (an ATP 250 clay-court tournament that ran until 2005) and he was also a long-time promoter of the Milan event.

He also worked as the public relations director of Italian clothing manufacturer, LaFont, which launched in 1976, and he helped to sign tennis players, including Cliff Drysdale, John Alexander, Phil Dent, Kim Warwick, Tim Gullikson and Tom Gullikson.

Marchese, who studied economics and commerce in Genoa and foreign languages at Bocconi, started working as a goldsmith in the family business, but became Mark McCormack's IMG sports manager in Italy at the age of 35.

In 1980, he dealt with the management of Italian commercial television rights on behalf of TWI, a company of the IMG Group, and also organised the 1985 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio.

Marchese is fondly remembered as a ‘mayor’ of the VIP village, which he helped to revitalise at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. In 1982, he sold three of the five hospitality tents for $5,000 each and hosted up to 3,000 people, when the ATP Masters 1000 tournament's total revenue was $500,000.

He is survived by his wife, Gabriella.

Cino Marchese, sports agent and manager, born 2 November 1937, died 17 March 2019

Thiem's Story Of The BNP Paribas Open 2019

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 5:12pm
Watch Dominic Thiem's story of winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Watch live tennis streams at http://www.tennistv.com.

Watch The Miami Open On TennisTV

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 4:39pm
Watch the Miami Open presented by Itau at https://www.tennistv.com.

Hot Shots: Five Of Miami's All-Time Best

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 4:38pm
Watch five of the best shots in the history of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Felix, Tsonga Advance In Miami Qualifying

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 8:39am

#NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is one win away from making his debut at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The 18-year-old overcame a sluggish start on Monday to beat Italian Luca Vanni 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Auger-Aliassime, who fell in the first round of qualifying last year to American Mackenzie McDonald, will play 37-year-old Paolo Lorenzi of Italy for a place in the main draw.

The Canadian earned his first Top 10 win last week at the BNP Paribas Open against Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the third round at the season's first ATP Masters 1000 event.

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McDonald and another seeded American, Reilly Opelka, also advanced. McDonald dismissed Peter Polansky of Canada 7-6(4), 7-5, and Opelka, the third seed, squeaked past Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen 7-6(7), 7-6(3). McDonald will meet 18th seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, and Opelka will face Spain's Marcel Granollers.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, on the comeback from knee surgery last April, beat big-serving Czech Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-4. Tsonga, No. 118 in the ATP Rankings, will next meet six-time ATP Tour titlist Pablo Cuevas. Top seed and Delray Beach champion Radu Albot also advanced, beating Italian Gianluigi Quinzi, who competed in the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals, 7-6(5), 6-0, and will meet American Mitchell Krueger in the second round.

Ranking Projection: Will Shapovalov Crack The Top 20?

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 8:15am

#NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov has enjoyed a steady climb up the ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old will have an opportunity to crack the Top 20 for the first time if he makes a deep run at the Miami Open presented by Itaú.

Shapovalov begins the year’s second ATP Masters 1000 event as World No. 23, his career-high ATP Ranking. Since he advanced to the fourth round in Miami in 2018, if he doesn't repeat that performance, he’ll drop 90 points on 1 April. To give himself a chance of cracking the Top 20, Shapovalov will have to advance to the semi-finals or better. Shapovalov would add 360 points for a semi-final showing, a net gain of 270 points.

Making it that far in Miami may seem like a tough task for a teenager, but Shapovalov is no stranger to deep runs at Masters 1000 tournaments. In 2017, the Canadian stunned the tennis world with his thrilling run to the last four at the Rogers Cup. Last year, he impressed by making the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Shapovalov may also be confident based on his draw. He could face a tough test in the third round against ninth seed Marin Cilic in the third round, but Shapovalov defeated the Croat in straight sets in Indian Wells. The top seed in Shapovalov's quarter of the draw is reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev.

Another #NextGenATP player who could make a move is reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek lost in the first round in Miami last year, so while he will drop 10 points, he is guaranteed to gain a minimum of 10 points regardless of his result. At worst, he will break even on 1 April and stay at 3,160 points.

Since World No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro drops 360 points (2018 semi-finalist) and will not gain anything due to his withdrawal (knee), Tsitsipas can pass him by making the fourth round (adding 90 points). World No. 9 John Isner drops 1,000 points from his victory last year. So in reality, Tsitsipas begins the event with a 665-point advantage over the American.

 Player  Pts Entering Miami  Pts Dropping (2018)  After 2018 Pts Dropped  Juan Martin del Potro (not competing)  3,585  360  3,225  John Isner  3,485  1,000  2,485  Stefanos Tsitsipas  3,160  10  3,150

It is an important week if Isner hopes to remain in the Top 10, a group he has been a member of since 10 September 2018. To have any chance of maintaining his spot in the Top 10, Isner must advance to the semi-finals or better.

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Read: Five Early-Round Matches To Watch In Miami

While it might be tough this tournament, former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka is in good position to climb closer to the top of the ATP Rankings in the next six weeks. Wawrinka, currently No. 37, is at his highest standing since last May.

The better news for the Swiss is that he has no points to defend until the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in May, and only 65 points through the end of Roland Garros. Wawrinka could face Roger Federer in the third round in Miami.

Points Per Round In Miami

 Champion  Finalist  SF  QF  R16  R32  R64 (For Seeds)  R128  1,000  600  360  180  90  45  25 (10)  10

Kyrgios-Nishikori Highlights Potential Clashes To Watch In Miami

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 6:42am

After a thrilling first ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year in Indian Wells, won by Dominic Thiem, the ATP Tour heads to Miami with another 1,000 ATP Ranking points up for grabs for the titlist. ATPTour.com looks at five potential early-round matches to watch:

Kei Nishikori vs. Nick Kyrgios (R3)
At the BNP Paribas Open, there was much anticipation for a potential Novak Djokovic vs. Nick Kyrgios third-round battle. But German Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated them both.

There is another third-round blockbuster on the horizon for Kyrgios. But this time, it could be against sixth seed Kei Nishikori. If both guys advance to the third round, the Aussie will be especially motivated, given that Nishikori has won all four of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

“I always find it tough playing him,” Kyrgios said after his most recent loss against Nishikori, at Wimbledon last year.

Kyrgios has one of the best serves on the ATP Tour. And when he is on his game, like when he triumphed at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco, he can take the racquet out of almost anyone’s hands. But Nishikori’s returning skills, speed, and ability to play aggressively could make for a thriller in Miami, three years after he beat Kyrgios in this event’s semi-finals in straight sets.

Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych (R2)
There might not be a more enticing second-round match than the potential of top seed Novak Djokovic meeting former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych. Less than four years ago, they were both inside the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings at the same time.

Djokovic has won 25 of 28 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Berdych — including all 21 of their matches on hard courts. But the Czech has proven his ability to challenge anyone in the world, owning multiple victories against each member of the ‘Big Four’.

Berdych at his best elicits short replies with his serve and immediately seizes control of rallies with his flat, penetrating groundstrokes. He got off to a quick start in 2019, winning 11 of his first 14 matches.

But Djokovic will be hungry to get back on track after a third-round loss against Kohlschreiber in Indian Wells. Last year, the six-time champion lost his opener in Miami against Benoit Paire. The World No. 1 certainly won’t want to endure deja vu.

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Roger Federer vs. Stan Wawrinka (R3)
Rematch, anybody? Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka in the third round at the BNP Paribas Open last week. Wawrinka may have a chance to return the favour in the third round at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Like Djokovic-Berdych, this has mostly been a one-sided FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, with Federer winning 22 of 25 battles against his Swiss compatriot. But former World No. 3 Wawrinka has shown throughout his career that his best tennis is as good as anyone’s.

Wawrinka did a good job of making 73 per cent of his first serves against his fellow Swiss star in the California desert. But Federer was not troubled, winning 41 per cent of those points. In fact, Wawrinka won 12 per cent more second-serve points than he did with his first delivery.

If the friends do battle in the third round, it’ll be an opportunity for a breakthrough for Wawrinka, who is still working his way back from two left knee surgeries in August 2017. The 30th seed seeks his first win against a Top 5 opponent since beating then-World No. 1 Andy Murray at 2017 Roland Garros.

Marin Cilic vs. Denis Shapovalov (R3)
Another rematch that could be on the cards in Miami would pit Marin Cilic against #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. In the span of five months, the two have split their only two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

In Indian Wells, Shapovalov needed just 78 minutes to dismiss Cilic, winning all but three of his first-serve points and saving the two break points he faced. This matchup is entertaining in that both have similar games, looking to land a big first serve and dictate play from the first ball of rallies. The intrigue: who can do their best better?

Shapovalov advanced to the fourth round in Miami on debut last year, and he may have to get by Cilic in the third round if he is to repeat that showing, and possibly go further, this time. Cilic, on the other hand, has lost three of his past four matches, so he will be keen to perform well at the year’s second Masters 1000 event.

Sam Querrey vs. David Ferrer (R1)
Perhaps the most interesting first-round match in Miami could be former World No. 3 David Ferrer’s last at the tournament. The Spaniard faces former World No. 11 Sam Querrey, who has won at least one match in Miami 11 times.

Both players will be plenty motivated, as Ferrer, who made the final in 2013, will try to make a magical run in his final hard-court Masters 1000 event. World No. 68 Querrey is at his lowest ATP Ranking since 2014, so he will be hungry to get back on track with a strong performance in Miami.

The bonus for the winner: a clash with second seed Alexander Zverev.

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Wawrinka & Federer Could Clash In The Third Round... Again!

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 3:34am

Roger Federer could meet compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the third round for the second straight tournament at the Miami Open presented by Itaú. After Federer defeated Wawrinka in straight sets in Indian Wells en route to the final (l. to Thiem), Wawrinka, the 30th seed may get a chance to avenge that loss in the second ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year.

If the Swiss stars meet, it will be their 26th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Federer leads 22-3). All three of Wawrinka’s victories have come on clay, at either Roland Garros or a Masters 1000 tournament. But perhaps Federer was a prophet after beating his friend in the California desert.

"“I think he knows, as well as I, that he's very, very close and it's just a matter of time until he's going to break through again,” Federer said after their Indian Wells match.

Federer will have to get past Aussie Matthew Ebden or a qualifier, and Wawrinka must defeat Serbian Filip Krajinovic or Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert to set the popcorn battle. Federer has won all 12 of his clashes with Wawrinka at hard-court Grand Slams or Masters 1000 events, triumphing on eight of those occasions in straight sets.

Watch Highlights Of Roger & Stan's Indian Wells Clash:

Also in their quarter is sixth seed Kevin Anderson, Rolex Paris Masters champion Karen Khachanov, 13th seed Daniil Medvedev and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals winner Grigor Dimitrov.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is pursuing a record seventh Miami title, will look to get back on track after a surprising third-round loss against German Philipp Kohlschreiber in Indian Wells. Regardless of who he meets in the second round, it will be a familiar foe. Djokovic will play former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych or Aussie Bernard Tomic.

The top seed has won 25 of 28 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Berdych — including all 21 of their matches on hard courts — and all five of his clashes with Tomic. But Berdych owns four victories against World No. 1s, including a triumph in Miami against then-World No. 1 Federer nine years ago.

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The first seeded opponent Djokovic could face is No. 32 seed John Millman, who beat Roger Federer in the fourth round of last year's US Open before Djokovic dismissed him. No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who upset Djokovic en route to the Doha title in January, could be a fourth-round opponent for the Serbian. No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini, who partnered Djokovic to the Indian Wells doubles semi-finals, is also in his section.

Fresh off his maiden Masters 1000 triumph in Indian Wells, Dominic Thiem carries plenty of confidence into Miami. Matching his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 4, the third seed will play Indian Wells quarter-finalist Hubert Hurkacz or Italian Matteo Berrettini in the second round. The next highest-ranked player in his quarter is Kei Nishikori. There may be another popcorn third-round match, as Nishikori could face Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC winner Nick Kyrgios. 

Seventh seed John Isner begins his title defence against Slovak Martin Klizan or a qualifier, and he could face Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille in the third round. Alexander Zverev, who lost to Isner in last year's final, is the second seed. The German will face an early test against former World No. 3 David Ferrer or home favourite Sam Querrey. 

Zverev's quarter is filled with #NextGenATP stars. He could play 28th seed Frances Tiafoe in the third round, while reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and 20th seed Denis Shapovalov are also among the #NextGenATP players in the bottom fourth of the draw.

Projected Quarter-final Matches
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 7 John Isner
No. 3 Dominic Thiem vs. No. 5 Kei Nishikori
No. 4 Roger Federer vs. No. 6 Kevin Anderson
No. 2 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Federer's Backhand Struggles Clear Way For Thiem

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 1:53am

The conversation starts and ends with backhand returns. The rest is just window dressing.

Dominic Thiem defeated Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win the the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday, with backhand returns meaning more to the outcome than any other shot.

In the opening set, with Thiem serving at 0-1, the Austrian directed all 10 serves in the game to Federer’s backhand return, and the Swiss put all 10 back in the court, breaking Thiem on the fourth break point of the game.

Federer also clocked a backhand return winner to break Thiem at 3-4 in the opening set. The stroke was completely dialed in early on, but the longer the match progressed, the more it missed its mark.

Flashback to 2017 when Federer won his fifth title in the desert, and his backhand return was the focal point of his renaissance. After dominating Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16 in Indian Wells, Federer said post-match, “I am able to step into the court much easier than I ever have. By coming over my backhand return from the get-go in the point I can start dominating points from the start.”

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Federer 2.0, which originated at the 2017 Australian Open and spilled over to Indian Wells two months later, was born from total commitment to come over the backhand return.

It was the bullseye of his resurgence, but that asset turned into a liability in the second and third sets on Sunday against Thiem as Federer increasingly had to slice the return to make it, providing Them with more time to immediately attack with a powerful Serve +1 groundstroke following his serve.

After making his first 10 backhand returns of the match, Federer missed five for the rest of the first set (18/23), seven in set two (13/20) and six in set three (17/23). Those 18 backhand return errors were the difference makers.

With Federer leading 6-3, 1-1 and having a break point at 30/40, he had an opportunity to put the match to bed. Almost all opponents historically go away against Federer when down a set and break.

Thiem's first serve was always going to go out wide to Federer’s backhand return. In fact, at ATP Masters 1000 matches from 2014-2018 when serving at 30/40, Thiem has gone out wide in the Ad court almost two times out of every three (63%).

Thiem predictably went with his favourite strategy, kicking a heavy 101 mph first serve out wide to the backhand. Two years ago against Nadal, Federer stepped into the court and clocked it down the line for an outright winner as he surged to the finish line.

Sunday against Thiem, he shanked the break point backhand return straight into the court in front of him and bounced it over the net – table tennis style. Opportunity evaporates quickly in the desert heat.

Federer manufactured another break point two points later, but a backhand groundstroke error into the net at the end of an 11-shot rally brought the score back to Deuce. Two points later and Thiem held for a 2-1 advantage that provided the launching pad for his unlikely victory.

Thiem broke Federer in the following game, with the Swiss double faulting to start the game, then uncharacteristically served and volleyed on three consecutive second serves.

At 15/30, Thiem clocked a short-angled backhand return winner against the serve-and-volleying Swiss. On break point at 15/40, Federer attempted a forehand half-volley approach but buried it into the net, and out of nowhere he trailed 1-3.

The momentum was gone, and it would never return. Thiem suddenly was the one hitting backhand return winners when it mattered the most, and in the blink of an eye Federer went from being on his toes to on his heels.

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Federer missed a backhand return in the 1-3 game and again at 2-4. With Thiem serving at 5-3, Federer missed a backhand long on the opening point, another one at 30/0, and lost the set with a backhand return error long with Thiem serving at 40/15.

A drip had turned into a torrent, and Thiem had successfully established a “go-to” hole on the other side of the court any time he needed a point.

With Thiem serving at 0-1, 30/30 in the third set, Federer had another opportunity to pounce. Instead, he netted a backhand return.

Thiem won his next service game at 1-2 with another Federer backhand return error. With Thiem serving at 2-3, two more backhand return errors increased the hemorrhaging for the Swiss.

Federer had one last window of opportunity with Thiem serving at 3-4, 0/30 in the third set. He lost the last point of the three-deuce game with a backhand return error.

At 5-5 in the third set, Federer seemingly panicked again. When he got broken in the second set, he doubled down on the secondary pattern of serving and volleying three times on second serves.

At 5-5, 30/15, in the third set, the Swiss went with the risky gambit of drop-shotting on two consecutive points, losing both. Federer missed his last backhand return of the match with Thiem serving at 6-5, 30/15, setting up match point.

Federer’s backhand return was the primary reason he won Indian Wells in 2017, but it turned into a gateway to defeat against Thiem on Sunday. Back to the drawing board.

Uncovered: Behind The Scenes In Indian Wells

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 1:34am
ATP Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open, following all the stars, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, before the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.

Uncovered: Relive The Epic 2018 BNP Paribas Open Final

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 1:33am
ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot relives the epic 2018 BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells, in which Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in a three-set classic. Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

Uncovered: The Inspiration Behind Jarry's Climb

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 1:31am
ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot delves into the climb of Chilean Nicolas Jarry, why he can continue his ascent, and the family member who has inspired him along the way.