- Chris Sobey
Rafael Nadal our outright selection for Miami this week was forced to retire when 3-0 down in the deciding set of his second round encounter against the unseeded Damir Dzumhur who is ranked 94 in the world. Dzumhur’s victory was his first in five attempts against a top-10 player, his first at Masters Series level and he won’t get a better chance of progressing to the fourth round when he faces world number 90 Mikhail Kukushkin today.
Nadal had looked on for a straight forward win against Dzumhur after he won the first set 6-2 however, the former world number one started to feel ill citing the oppressive heat as the reason and while he battled on heroically losing the second set 6-4 his condition worsened and he retired at 3-0 down in the third. The defeat, especially the manner of it, was a further blow for Nadal who has never been the same player since having his appendix out.
At the age of 29 and with his body failing him it’s unlikely he will ever rediscover the same level of aggression and stamina that brought him 27 Masters 1000 Series and 14 Grand Slams titles. He will welcome a return to Europe for the up-coming clay court swing and more clement conditions, but given his level of fitness and stamina it’s unlikely he will be challenging for any of the big clay court tournaments again this year.
Our one other selection for Miami this week, David Goffin to win the Second Quarter at 14/1, is through to the fourth round and will have a good chance of reaching the Quarter-Finals against the unseeded Fernando Verdasco, who he defeated in straight sets at the Cincinnati Masters last year. Goffin impressed reaching the semi-finals at Indian Wells last week and he’s continued that form this week. He is yet to drop a set in his two matches, thrashed 19th seed Victor Troicki 6-1 6-1 yesterday and if he can maintain this form will be very difficult to stop reaching a second Masters Series semi-final.
There was one other big upset at the weekend when fourth seed Stan Wawrinka crashed out in straight sets against the improving young Russian Andrey Kuznetsov ranked 51 in the world. This was Kuznetsov’s first win in Miami and the young Russian was far more composed and hungry than Wawrinka, who struggled to master the tough conditions hitting 34 unforced errors compared to Kuznetsov’s 20.
The top two seeds at Miami this week, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, both progressed to the third round in straight sets at the weekend, but again Murray looked far from impressive making hard work of seeing off the unseeded Denis Istomin. Djokovic impressed seeing off Britain’s next big hope 21 year old Kyle Edmunds, who showed glimpses of his future potential, but was no match for the world number one who looks nailed on to win his sixth Miami title and an unprecedented 28th Masters 1000 Series title.