Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Thiem worries Djoker while Bacsinszky flies Swiss flag

Novak Djokovic may have beaten Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 in the Miami fourth round but he had to fight harder than ever to achieve this victory and Thiem could have, with an ounce more experience, won the encounter of many extended rallies and increased respect for the Austrian.

Djokovic's early 3-0 lead was merely a scoreboard dominance because it was just a single nervous service failure from Thiem that flattered the world number one; thereafter Thiem held comfortably with heavy and cleverly placed groundstrokes, while Djokovic manufactured his service holds amid scrambling unconvincing saves of break points, usually waiting for an Austrian error to assist.

Somehow throughout the Serbian crisis, Novak didn't lose his nerve or serve, and held onto the early break to take the solid gold first set, but the Florida crowd was loving the quality of what Thiem was throwing at Djokovic, and imagining what he may provide in the clay season on a surface upon which he thrives even more.  Reminds me of a young Nadal and how he just was a natural to eventually capture Roland Garros, and it happened. (several times to hammer home the point).  Dominic Thiem is a similar fit for a French Open to fall his way, and it could well be his turn to deny Novak in Paris in 2016. 

Djokovic saved all 8 break points created by Thiem in set one, while converting 1 of the only 2 he saw.
Set two and the top seed was up the early break, but Thiem actually converted one of seven more break chances in this set to tie the games at 3-3.  Novak was better at returning the Austrian delivery though and broke again to have 5-4 and the chance to serve for the match.

Not so simple, and it wasn't until a number of saved break points and 13 minutes later that Novak Djokovic finally dispensed with a particularly impressive young 14th seed, and the world's best was one of the first to applaud Dominic Thiem off the court.
Fourth round matches between these two in the future will no doubt be a rarity as encounters will be more likely to be semis or finals once Thiem's ranking is in the top few which seems assured.

Other men's fourth round matches included a quality three setter between 7th seed Tomas Berdych and 10th seed Richard Gasquet, Berdych finally denying us future enjoyment of the attractive French backhand, at least for this tournament.

Later, the Murray upsetter, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, upset no one else, despite winning an engrossing opening set tie breaker against Gael Monfils.  The French highlight package took charge, winning the final sets comprehensively 6-3 6-3 and booking a quarter final with Kei Nishikori, whose battle with Roberto Bautista Agut was less troublesome.

The quarter final promised between Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios came to fruition following the Australian's good performance against Andrey Kuznetsov and the Canadian trouncing of Damir Dzumhur.  Of course, Damir will still be wearing his smile from the win over Nadal, so the loss to Raonic is somewhat mitigated.

Gilles Simon smashed his fellow French player Lucas Pouille and lucky loser Horacio Zeballos reverted to unlucky loser at the hands of David Goffin who is beginning to relish these Masters events.

Only the two women's singles decided today and those important quarter finals.

Timea Bacsinszky didn't play Miami last year, but is making up for it in a big way in 2016.  Not content with her sensational upset win over third seed Aga Radwanska in the fourth round, she followed up with another come from behind victory over semi finalist from Miami 2015, and 5th seed Simona Halep.  

Instead of the expected semi final between Serena Williams and Aga Radwanska, we have their respective conquerors, 19th seed Bacsinszky and 15th seed Sveta Kuznetsova lining up against each other.

The all Russian affair started off with quarter finalist Ekaterina Makarova on the back foot, Sveta with the early break.  Soon, though, holding serve was irrelevant and once the tie break was reached, each had seen theirs broken three times.  Makarova prevailed comfortably 7-3 in the tie breaker but Kuznetsova achieved an extra service break in each of the second and third sets, to win the semi spot, and continue her long and distinguished career in the top tier of women's tennis.

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