Milos Raonic Vs John Isner Miami Open Last Sixteen Preview

Roanic

Photo courtesy of movietvtechgeeks.com

Milos Raonic (5) and John Isner (22) go head to head in the last sixteen at the ATP 1000 Miami Open tonight. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.

Isner leads this battle of the big serves 2-0, winning both of their matches at ATP 1000 North American Hard court events (Toronto 2012, Cincinnati 2013).

That period was perhaps Isner’s career peak and one in which Raonic was still developing. This match will see them meet in very different circumstances- Isner is currently ranked 24 (he was ranked 11 when he beat Raonic in Toronto ’12) while Raonic is now a solid top ten player, ranked no. 6.

Back in 2012-2013, Raonic had his big serve, but the rest of his game was still a work in progress. Since late 2013, Raonic, with the help of coach Ivan Ljubicic, a lot of progress has been achieved and the Canadian has a better back court game, a better net game  and a much improved return game.

The hard work has paid off- a Wimbledon semi-final, a French Open last eight finish, a Washington title, wins over Federer, Nadal and Murray, a career ranking of no.5, all have been added to the Raonic resume in the last year.

Raonic showcased his improved skills in his match against Chardy in the last 32. The fifth seed was taken to the brink by the Frenchman, wobbling when serving for the match in the second set and being taken to a final set tiebreaker.

Raonic took control in that tiebreaker though as he took it 7-3 with service winners, winners at the net, and his much improved forehand helping him land safely into the fourth round after a turbulent match.

Isner, meanwhile, had a different path to the last sixteen- the American was rock solid in his straight sets defeat of Dimitrov.

It is a good thing both men have recent practice of being clutch when they need to be. Serve will rule in this match, (Isner wins 96% of his service games, Raonic is at 94) and it will most likely be decided in tiebreakers.

That is where Raonic’s better overall game should come into effect. On Miami’s slow hard courts, he will have more chances on the return and in rallies, and the Canadian is mentally tough enough to block out the pro-Isner crowd when the match gets tight, tougher than he was back in 2012/13.

A lot has changed since these two big serves last met, and that should be reflected in tonight’s result.

Prediction: Raonic to win.

Commentary by Christian Deverille @thetennisreview

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Milos Raonic Miami Open Day 7 Player of the Day

Raonic

Photo courtesy of www.cbc.ca

Milos Raonic (5) had to fight to get past giant-killer Jeremy Chardy (31) in the last 32 of the ATP 1000 Miami Open. The fifth seed’s 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (3) victory earns him our player of the day award.

Losing to Chardy would not have been the Canadian’s most shocking career defeat- only six months ago he lost a match to a player outside of the top 100. Chardy is at least a top 40 player and has a list of notable scalps- Del Potro at the Australian Open 2013, Murray at Cincinnati 2012, Federer at Italian Open 2014.

The way in which the Canadian lost his grip on the match, however, was a little surprising considering he led Chardy 5-0 in their head to head and was playing the better tennis on the day by far.

The Canadian swept through the first set 6-1, and broke to lead 3-2 in the second, and looked set to cruise to victory.

At 5-4, Raonic served out for the match, but his increasing errors and Chardy’s consistency, variety and well-crafted moments of aggression allowed the world no.38 to break back and level the set at 5-5.

Raonic was unable to convert breaks point in the next game, Chardy held serve, and then took control of the match to break Raonic and take the second set 7-5.

Chardy served first in the decider and both men held serve, with Raonic two points from defeat serving at 4-5, all the way to the tiebreaker.

In the tie-break, though, Roanic showed the improvement to his game over the last eighteen months, particularly on the mental side of things. While he had looked rattled since losing his grip on the match, in the tiebreak he settled himself and took control.

The fifth seed was gifted a mini-break on the very first point of the tie-break when Chardy double-faulted. Raonic then struck a service winner and followed it up with a serve down the middle and a forehand winner off the short ball to lead 3-0.

At 3-2, Raonic served down the tee, hit a slice backhand approach shot and hit a winning forehand volley. It was a confident and calm display against a man who had pushed him all the way the previous hour. A service winner later and Raonic was 5-2 up, no longer being pushed, but, just as he had started the match, doing the pushing around.

At 5-3, Raonic unleashed his backhand on the return, hitting it deep to Chardy’s forehand,  got the Frenchman on the stretch, and then, with all the time in the world, hit an inside out forehand cross-court to force an error.

On his first match point, on his serve, Raonic hit a service winner, and sealed the win.

The Canadian took a deep breathe, and for good reason. His run to the semi-final in Indian Wells had helped him get some momentum going again, and he had taken his eye off the ball against Chardy, one of the game’s most dangerous 30-40 ranked players, for a second and narrowly avoided letting the win slip from his grip.

Raonic can take great confidence, and heart, that his serve, forehand, return and volley all stood up to the Chardy test when it had mattered most, the hard work put into his game the past eighteen months paying off in the form of a hard-fought second consecutive trip to the Miami last eight.

Commentary by Christian Deverille @thetennisreview

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Miami Open Day 7 Preview Grigor Dimitrov Vs John Isner

Dimitrov

CC courtesy of Marianne Bevis @ Flickr

Day 7 of the ATP 1000 Miami Open features Grigor Dimitrov taking on home hope John Isner. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.

This clash of the big serve-big forehand combo of Isner versus the shot-making and variety of Dimitrov fully deserves its night match status.

This will be the first meeting between the two. Dimitrov has a good record against big servers on hard court surfaces- he dealt Raonic a defeat at the 2014 Australian Open, and has wins over Kevin Anderson (leads 5-1). Isner, meanwhile, has a mixed record versus shotmakers, being 1-4 versus Federer, but 2-2 versus Gasquet and 2-1 versus Wawrinka.

Neither man, though has done particularly well in Miami. Dimitrov is 5-4 at the event, with his best result being the last sixteen. He also scored a win over 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych in 2012.  Isner is 8-7 and has been to the last 16 twice (2011 and 2014).

The serve, being an Isner match, will play a huge role in the outcome. In 2015, Isner has won 96 percent of his service games with an average first serve of 71 percent, and he wins 83 percent of points behind that delivery. Dimitrov has impressive stats himself, but he cannot compete with Isner in that department.

But neither can Isner compete well with Dimitrov on the return, though both are far from being the best returners on the ATP tour.

Dimitrov has the better return game of the two in 2015- he has converted 34 percent of break points to Isner’s 22, and wins 21 percent of his service games to Isner’s 8.

The slower surface will help Dimitrov out on the return, but it is unlikely he will get many looks at a second serve.

This match will most likely come down to tiebreakers, and with Isner having the advantage of the serve, that big forehand of his to swing at short returns and the crowd behind him, Dimitrov will be up against it.

Dimitrov is struggling, too. He recently lost to Robredo in Indian Wells, throwing in two double faults when serving to stay in the third set at 5-6, another bad loss in a worrying string. Isner, meanwhile, is one of the game’s toughest players who will not blink when things get tight and will trust in his serve to get him through it, and against Dimitrov right now, it most probably will.

Prediction: Isner in three sets.

Commentary by Christian Deverille @thetennisreview

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Fernando Verdasco Miami Open Day 6 Player of the Day

Verdasco

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Fernado Verdasco’s 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 upset of Rafael Nadal in the third round of the Miami Open earns him the title of Player of the Day.

Verdasco (29) was 1-13 against Nadal (2) going into the match. Now he has beaten the 14 time slam champion twice in a row- he won the last time they met on the blue clay of Madrid in 2012, another three set win.

The last time Verdasco had beaten a top ten player was when he beat then world no. 9 Richard Gasquet in Indian Wells last year.

Verdasco broke Nadal in the ninth game of the first set when the Spaniard shanked a forehand,  one of a  few uncharacteristic shanks to come off his racket in the match.

Verdasco was nervous in the second set, missing some easy shots and dropped it 2-6.

In the third, he pulled himself together and hit a purple patch at at 2-1 returning. Verdasco hit a forehand winner down the line for 15-30, and then hit another forehand winner, his 14th of the match, this one angled and into the corner of the service box, clipping the outside line, for break point.

Verdasco took his second break point with an inspired combination of an angled backhand cross-court into the service box and then, when the ball came right back to him, hitting a inside out forehand to the same spot with such pace it could only be a winner.

Verdasco, now leading 3-1,  grabbed the momentum. He kept going for his shots and hitting winners to hold onto his lead and serve out for the match at 5-3.

Verdasco reached his second match point with a forehand winner from mid-court. He then took the match courtesy of a body serve, heavy with top spin, which bounced high off the line and forced an error from the world no. 2.

Verdasco was 12-12 in Miami before this year and enters the last 32 for the third time in his career (2009, 2010). He will play Juan Monaco for a place in the last eight.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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@thetennisreview

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Five Reasons Tsonga’s Miami Open Return is Great for Tennis

 TsongaCC courtesy of Marianne Bevis at Flickr.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s 2015 campaign took a while to get started, but his first match of the year, a three set defeat of Tim Smyczek in the second round of the Miami Open, finally got things going. Tsonga’s return was well worth the wait, too, and tennis is all the better for his return for five good reasons.

Entertainment:

Few players on the ATP Tour play with as much variety as Tsonga. The Frenchman can strike winners with his forehand down the line, can hit back hand winners on the run, can step inside the court and dictate, can finish points of at the net, can hit aces.

What is more, in the course of a match, he will most likely entertain us and perform all of them.

He plays to win:

One thing that makes Tsonga such a joy to watch is he plays to win. The Frenchman never lets an opportunity to move forward and finish the point inside the court pass him, even if he might get passed doing so. He is a risk taker, whether it is the opening point, or he is match point down.

That quality was on show in his match against Smyczek. His winner count was 30, while his error count was 36. The two being so close together reflects his aggressive approach to winning, an aspect of his game which makes him so easy to cheer for.

His serve 

Tsonga has one of the best serves in the game, especially his second serve, and when he faces a good returner, he can ace his way out of trouble.

When you watch Tsonga, you know his opponents will have to play their best to beat him. Breaking the Tsonga serve is tough, and so they will have to serve and return at their best which often results in a high quality match, and Tsonga has been involved in some classics.

A good example of the strength of his serve is the way he dealt Djokovic one of his heaviest defeats on hard courts last year in Canada. The Frenchman dropped just four games on his way to stunning the world No.1, and his serve simply overwhelmed the game’s best returner.

Tsonga went on to beat Dimitrov, Murray and Federer on his way to the ATP 1000 title, his serve a huge factor in that run.

Check out the video below to see Tsonga serve his way out of trouble against Djokovic in Marseille 2009.

He fights

Tsonga’s fight against Smyczek was typical of the Frenchman. This is the man who came back from two sets to love down to beat Federer at Wimbledon in 2011.

Watch highlights of Tsonga’s comeback victory against Federer at Wimbledon 2011 below.

He has that celebration dance

Words cannot do it justice. See for yourself below (from 00:19).

Watch highlights of Tsonga’s win over Smyczek below.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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Miami Open Day 6 Preview: Monfils Vs Tsonga, Berdych vs Tomic

Monfils Miami

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The third round of the Miami Open features Gael Monfils taking on fellow Frenchman Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and Tomas Berdych going up against Bernard Tomic. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.

Gael Monfils (17) Vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (11)

This is easily the most attractive match of the day. Two of the game’s best shot-makers, best athletes and most passionate players going up against each other for a place in the last sixteen.

Monfils is having a strong 2015, finishing runner up in Marseilles and compiling a 10-4 win-loss record. His first round match against Filip Krajinovic was his first since the Open 13 event- he had to withdraw from Indian Wells with a chronic keen injury- and he won it in a third set tiebreaker.

Tsonga also comes into the contest after a tough three set win over Tim Smyczek in his first match of the year.

Tsonga leads the head to head 4-1, with all their matches played on hard. The only match that has gone the distance was Monfils’ sole win in Montpellier in 2010.

Tsonga will commit to an attacking game while Monfils will use his great athleticism to defend, and he will benefit from the extra time he will have to set up his shot-making.

It’s a clash of styles which is sure to provide many entertaining rallies and a few twists and turns. Expect both players to give 100 percent mentally, and with Tsonga being the dominant player in this head to head, the better outdoor hard player, and the better match player, this should go his way.

Prediction: Tsonga to win in three sets.

Tomas Berdych (8) Vs Bernard Tomic (25)

What makes this match up so intriguing is the clash of styles. Berdych is the game’s cleanest hitting ball-striker. Tomic, on the other hand, is all about touch, variety and court-smarts.

Berdych leads the head to head 3-0. Until now, they have only met at slams (Wimbledon 2013, 2014, Australian Open 2015), and Berdych has won each time, with the two Wimbledon clashes going four sets.

Both men are in good form. Berdych has been having a strong start to 2015 with new coach Daniel Vallverdu, and Tomic has re-committed himself to the game, making the last eight of Indian Wells last week, the furthest he has gone at an ATP 1000, and ranked 29, is two places below his career high ranking  reached on 11.06.2012.

Tomic’s re-dedication to tennis is seeing him get good results outside of Wimbledon and Australia, and he is starting to consistently beat players ranked below him, and also those above him, such as his recent defeat in Indian Wells of no.8 David Ferrer.

This match will be on the slowest surface they have competed on yet, which slightly favors Berdych who has a 24-9 career record in Miami, and reached the final in 2010.

This will be a tough one for Berdych as Tomic’s variety of spins and slices will not give him any rhythm, but the Czech seems to have Tomic’s number in the head to head, has had great success in Miami and should be able to hit through the courts and impose his game.

Prediction: Berdych to win in straight sets.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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Who do you think will win? Please share your thoughts with us below.

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Miami Open Day 5 Player of the Day Alexandr Dolgopolov

Dolgopolov Miami Open

CC courtesy of Angela N at flickr.

World no. 65 Alexandr Dolgopolov’s second round 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-5 defeat of 16th seed Tommy Robredo at the Miami Open earns him the the title of Player of the day.

A year ago, the Ukrainian was ranked 23 coming into the Miami Open, and entered the event on the back of a run to the last four of Indian Wells where he knocked out then world no. 1 Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic.

Dolgopolov broke into the top 20 in June and then peaked at 17 after Hamburg in mid-July. But an injury interrupted his rise up the rankings and he was out of the game until Tokyo in late September.

The Ukrainian would score only one win the rest of the season (a straight sets defeat of Gilles Simon in Valencia).

In 2015, Dolgopolov, one of tennis’ best shot-makers, has been getting his form back. He has now, including his Miami wins, won back to back matches in his last four events (Indian Wells, Acapulco and Delray Beach).

Robredo, ranked 18, is the first top 20 player Dolgopolov has beaten since Simon in Valencia. The Spaniard has no problems dealing with the game’s big shot-makers on slow courts- he beat Dimitrov at Indian Wells last week, and is one of the tour’s steadiest and smartest players, and was a difficult draw for Dolgopolov.

Robredo took a tight first set on a tiebreaker, running away with the breaker 7-1. The Ukrainian then took the second set 6-3.

In the final set, Robredo broke for a 2-0 lead and held for 2-1.  The Ukrainian fought back to earn two break points and took the first when, on the run, he hit one of his greatest weapons,  a sliced backhand, cross-court,  that skimmed the line and forced a Robredo error.

Returning at 5-6, Dolgopolov was two game points down. A cross-court forehand on the run that passed Robredo and cleaned the line kept him in the game. On the next point, Dolgopolov’s reactions and talented hands were showcased as he returned a serve  right into his backhand, getting his racket on the ball with lightning reactions and sending it  cross-court, right at Robredo’s feet, forcing him into a forehand error and leveling the game at deuce.

Dolgopolov earned his third match point with a forehand cross-court taken on the rise followed by a forehand volley winner.

On match point, Dolgopolov got a look on the second serve. He rallied with Robredo for the first couple of shots before Robredo took charge, changing the direction of the ball and hitting a  penetrating forehand down the line that pushed Dolgopolov behind the baseline.

The Ukrainian’s movement and footwork kept him in the point, and he hit a sliced backhand that drew Robredo in. With a sitting target at the net, Dolgopolov unleashed some pace as he struck a forehand passing shot at Robredo that forced the Spaniard to error on the volley and earned Dolgopolov a place in the last sixteen.

Shot-making, variety, touch, great hands, imagination footwork, technical skills- Dolgopolov has it all, and he was so close to putting it altogether as he rose up the rankings before injury last season. This win over Robredo might be a step back in that direction, a direction worth following for tennis fans.

Watch highlights of Dolgopolov’s win over Robredo below.

Commentary by Christian Deverille.

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Miami Open Day 3 Player of the Day Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

Photo courtesy of sportnet.at.

 Dominic Thiem’s 7-6, (4), 4-6, 6-3 upset of tenth seed Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the ATP 1000 Miami Open earns the 21 year old Austrian the title of Player of the Day.

The upset was  an impressive one. Lopez was in good form coming into the event- last week in Indian Wells he knocked out world no. 5 Kei Nishikori on his way to the quarter-finals.

Thiem, meanwhile has been struggling in 2015 after a breakthrough 2014 in which he made the U.S Open fourth round, broke into the top 40 (achieved highest ranking of 36 on 08.09.14), and scored a win over then reigning Australian Open and Monte Carlo champion Stan Wawrinka at the Madrid Open.

A viral infection and military service over the off-season knocked the momentum out of Thiem though, and coming into Miami, the 52nd ranked player in the world was 3-6 on the ATP tour, and lost in the quarter-finals last week in Irving on the Challenger Tour.

Thiem, who beat Diego Schwartzman in the previous round, won back to back matches for only the second time in 2015 after beating Lopez.  His previous back to back wins came in Marseilles, though he did not have to complete the second win over Goffin who retired 0-5 down in the second set.

Before the Lopez match, Thiem was 1-0 versus Lopez, beating the Spaniard in straight sets on his way to the U.S Open fourth round last year.

Thiem edged a close first set 7-6 (4). In the tiebreak, Thiem hit a winning lob to grab a crucial mini-break and lead 5-4.

At 6-4, serving, Thiem served out wide, stepped into the court and hit an aggressive  forehand to the Lopez backhand side, forcing an error and sealing the set.

Thiem dropped the second set, but came back strong in the third, his more penetrating ground strokes, superior back court play, aggressive passing shots and willingness to move forward got the better off Lopez.  Thiem scored an early break in the third and then held all the way to 5-3 when he served for the match.

The 21 year old reached match point with a winning smash. Lopez saved the first with a volley winner, but on the second match point, Thiem served down the middle and then hit his signature shot- a single handed backhand- cross-c0urt for a winner to move into the Miami Open third round.

Thiem’s fist pump and grin after winning the match point with a blistering winner was great to see. The 21 year old is one of the players to watch on the ATP Tour and this win could help him get back to the strong form he displayed in 2014.

Thiem has now defended his last 64 Miami points from 2014 and now faces either Fabio Fognini or Jack Sock in the last 32.

Watch highlights of Thiem’s win over Lopez below

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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Who Would Win Miami Without Djokovic, Murray and Nadal in the Draw?

 Miami

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

Novak Djokovic’s victory at the Miami Open looks a sure bet. The Serbian won the Indian Wells- Miami double last season, and after his win in Indian Wells last Weekend, it is hard to see him not repeating that feat this year.

But who would win if Djokovic was not in the draw? With Murray and Nadal both struggling, they are not safe bets to fill the gap Djokovic’s absence would leave, and, for the sake of this article, are removed from the draw.

With Federer missing from the draw, along with the other ‘Big Four’ members, the potential would be there for one of the current ‘young gun’ generation of Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov to break through.

A breakthrough the tennis world has been waiting for some time to happen. None of them have won an ATP 1000 yet. The closet they have got was when Nishikori led Nadal by a set and a break in the Madrid 2014 final before he was forced to retire injured. Raonic has also represented them in an ATP 1000 final when he beat Federer on his way to the Paris-Bercy final last year, but he was soundly beaten by Djokovic in the championship match.

Nishikori and Raonic are in the same quarter of the draw of the Miami Open, but with Djokovic ‘withdrawing’, we put Nishikori, the highest ranked player in the draw after Djokovic, Nadal and Murray, in the Serbian’s spot, and Raonic, ranked six, as the number two seed at the bottom of the draw.

Nishikori replacing Djokovic would be fitting. Nishikori and Djokovic, with their aggressive baseline games and athleticism, have a lot in common.

The Japanese would likely sail through Djokovic’s part of the draw, and meet Ferrer in the last eight. That match could go either way, in Nishikori’s current form. The Japanese recently lost to Ferrer in straight sets in the Acapulco final, despite being  a nightmare match up for the Spaniard, the 2013 Miami runner-up.

Nishikori is the better player in this match up, however, and so, in this imaginary draw, goes through.

The Japense would face, in the ideal ‘ young gun generation’ scenario, Grigor Dimitrov in the last four. Nishikori leads that head to head 2-0, with both wins coming on hard in straight sets (Shanghai ’13, Miami ’14), and the Japanese, like Djokovic is a nightmare match up for Dimitrov.

Nishikori’s length from the baseline and variety of ground strokes keep Dimitrov beyond the baseline, running side to side and open up the court. As if that were not bad enough for Dimitrov, Nishikori’s speed and passing shots get the better of Dimitrov when he does get control of the ball and approaches the net. Nishikori has a fierce return, too, and if Dimitrov is off his serve, he is in trouble.

So, Nishikori would make the final, beating Dimitrov in straights.

In the bottom half, Raonic would face Berdych in the last eight. Raonic leads this head to head 3-1 with all their matches played on hard courts.  Raonic’s serve trumps the Czech, he saves break points more easily, and the slow surface would allow him to return better, too, and go for winners on his ground-strokes. The Raonic-Berdych quarter-final would go three sets with the Canadian just edging the Czech.

In the semis, Raonic would face Wawrinka. Wawrinka leads him 4-0, and beat him in two tiebreak sets in Rotterdam this year. But just as Raonic overturned a 0-5 head to head deficit with Nadal in Indian Wells last week, he has a chance against Wawrinka who went out early in Indian Wells, has never made it past the last 16 in Miami and has a 6-6 career win-loss record at the event. Raonic meanwhile has already made a quarter-final, in 2014 when he took Nadal to three sets, and is 5-2 lifetime at the tournament.

In the final, Nishikori and Raonic would deliver a worthy contest. Nishikori leads the head to head 5-2, but each match has been close with three of the three setters going the distance, their 2014 U.S Open going five sets, and their recent Davis Cup match going five sets on hard.

Nishikori versus Raonic is an entertaining contest to catch. It is a classic clash of styles- Raonic’s big serve and risky, explosive ground strokes up against Nishikori’s baseline aggression and return game. It could very well be the final of the future, too, with these two ranked 5 and 6 and aged 25 (Nishikori) and 23 (Raonic).

Right now, Nishikori would most likely win on a slower surface like Miami where his return game could make the difference. Raonic tends to throw in the odd off service game now and then, and his own return game is still a work in progress.

The Japanese also has the greater variety which benefits him on a surface where he has plenty of time to select his shots.

Right now, though, with Djokovic and Federer still winning the majority of slams and ATP 1000s, Nishikori and Raonic are not regularly competing in big finals. With Djokovic not likely to decline anytime soon, and Federer maximizing his attacking game to save miles on the clock, Nishikori and Raonic will have to get past those two if they want to start competing for big titles.

That time will come when Raonic and Nishikori do contest each other for the game’s big titles, but it would sent a jolt through the tennis world if it happened sooner rather than later. With the winners of events currently a touch predictable, the sport could do with some breakthroughs like it had last year with Wawrinka and Cilic.

If Raonic and Nishikori can tap into something in the near future, that touch of inspiration that will get them through a big match against the big four in the later stages of big events,like Nishikori had against Djokovic at the U.S Open, their presence in the finals and on the winner’s podium would be, for the neutral spectators, a very welcome surprise.

Watch the Brisbane 2015 match between Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic below.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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Who do you think would win the Miami Open without Djokovic, Nadal and Murray in the draw?

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Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev into Miami Open Round 2.

Coric

Photo courtesy of www.thetennisspace.com

Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev won three set matches to make the second round of the Miami Open on their tournament debuts.

Zverev, 17, qualified for the main draw and was appearing in the main draw of an ATP 1000 event for the first time in his short ATP career. The German, ranked 29, beat 69th ranked Sam Groth 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 and out-aced the Australian 22 aces to 17.

Groth led Zverev in all other serve stats, and return ones, too, and even won more overall points (99-90), but trailed in the most important stat of them all- break points won in the third set. Groth converted none of his three break points while Zverev won 1 of 2.

Zverev will now face 26th seed Lukas Rosol in the next round, a winnable match for the German who excels on slow surfaces and has a big enough serve to hold his own against the Czech.

Coric will face 18th seeded David Goffin. The Croatian 18 year old, ranked 59, beat Andreas Haider-Maurer for the second first round match in a row. Coric beat Maurer in the first round of Indian Wells over a week ago in straight sets, but this match was altogether different affair, Coric winning 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).

After the two split sets, Maurer went up 3-0 in the third. Coric fought back though, despite an injury time-out, leveled the match, broke serve and then served for the match at 6-5. He could not do it, though, barely able to move at times.

In the deciding tie-breaker, Coric was the steadier of the two in some tentative, nervy  rallies, grabbed an early mini-break and took the tiebreaker 7-3.

Coric has now won a match in his second consecutive ATP Tour event, and if he can recover from his injury by Saturday, he could have a chance in round two against a recently injured Goffin. The Belgian leads the head to head, winning their Basel semi-final last season, but that match went to three sets, and Coric will be more match fit than Goffin who has not played since the Davis Cup and has not won back to back since Chennai in January.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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