2014 Week-12 and 13: Miami’s Sony Open

After two weeks in Key Biscayne and a pair of Semifinal withdrawals that aggravated Friday’s ticket holders, the 2014 Sony Open saw very familiar faces lifting crystal during its trophy presentations. In Sunday’s Men’s Final, Novak Djokovic had all of the answers for World #1 Rafael Nadal. With a 1st-Round bye and two walkovers, the Serb only had to play 4-matches to capture his 4th title in Miami; and did so without dropping a set all tournament. He wasn’t kidding around when he mentioned that the Indian Wells third-set championship tie-break win over Roger Federer was a huge boost of confidence. He now carries two consecutive Masters-1000 titles into the clay-season, with a dominant win over the surface’s finest player ever.

After a slow start in the Womens Final – down 2-5 in the first set – Serena Williams delivered two huge breaks and never looked back. She would only allow Li to win one more service game the rest of the way. Serena’s 59th WTA title is a record-setting 7th-win in Key Biscayne, surpassing Steffi Graf – who earned six Miami titles during her playing career. Serena’s only two losses this year came in the Dubai Semifinals (4-6, 4-6 Alize Cornet) and the Australian Open 4th-Round (6-4, 3-6, 3-6 Ana Ivanovic).

Bob and Mike Bryan haven’t lost a match since the Memphis Final nearly two months ago, where they were defeated by Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen – the same team that eliminated the twins from the Australian Open’s Round of 16. Despite a pro-Columbian crowd in Miami, the brothers captured their 3rd consecutive and 96th career title together in straight sets.

Martina Hingis has been looking for the right partner to launch a doubles comeback on the WTA tour. Last year, her partnership with Daniela Hantuchova was a bust. As a coach, she’s been working closely with Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, so they decided to partner-up at Indian Wells…and lost in the 1st-Round (4-6, 7-6, 6-10 Barty/Dellacqua). As Wild Cards in Miami, they strung together five wins in-a-row, defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the Final. Hingis has now won the Miami doubles title three times (1998 and 1999 with Jana Novotna) and owns 38 career WTA doubles titles. Sunday’s win was Lisicki’s 3rd-time lifting a WTA doubles trophy.

2014 Sony Open Tennis Champions:

  • Novak Djokovic (4th title) – def. Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3
  • Serena Williams (7th title) – def. Na Li 7-5, 6-1
  • Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki – def. Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 4-6, 6-4, 10-5
  • Bob and Mike Bryan (3rd title) – def. Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6(8) 6-4

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Sony Open 2014 Nuggets:

The Semifinal Debacle. Friday’s ticket-holders were pretty pissed to learn that both Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych had withdrawn from their semifinal matches. Kei was out with a re-aggravated groin pull. Tomas developed a terrible case of the trots overnight and was in no condition to take the court. (Eek!)

Kei Nishiokori had a hell of a tournament, despite the withdrawal. Check out these wins to reach the Semifinal: 1R Bye; 2R Marinko Matosevic 6-4, 6-1; 3R Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(1), 7-5; 4R David Ferrer 7-6(7), 2-6, 7-6(9); QF Roger Federer 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Obviously, those last two wins were huge.

Australian Open Champion Stanislas Wawrinka will go into the clay-season with 4th-Round losses at both Indian Wells (6-7, 6-4, 1-6 Kevin Anderson) and Miami (6-7, 6-4, 1-6 Alex Dolgopolov)

As a WC, Marcos Baghdatis defeated Santiago Giraldo, then the #24-seed Philip Kohlschreiber to reach the 3rd Round. He then took Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to 3-sets, before losing 5-7 in the third.

After a great run at Indian Wells where he lost to John Isner in the Quarterfinals, Ernests Gulbis had a 1st Round bye in Miami…then lost to Julien Benneteau (another Indian Wells Quarterfinalist) in 2nd Round play 4-6, 6-4, 5-7

Daniel Brands continues to struggle and lose ranking points. Since the Doha Quarterfinals week-one of the season, he’s lost in the opening round of every ATP World Tour tournament he’s entered. In fact, after a 1st Round loss to Jarkko Nieminen at Indian Wells, he was forced to enter the Irving, Texas Challenger – where he lost in the 2nd Round to Lukas Kubot. In Miami…more of the same…a 1st Round loss to Radek Stepanek.

Dominka Cibulkova cracked the top-10 after her win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the Quarterfinals

Venus Williams enjoyed a 1st-Round bye, then played through to the 4th-Round in Miami. after posting wins over Anna Schmiedlova and Casey Dellacqua, she fell in the 4th-Round to Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 7-5, 3-6.

Madison Keys improved on her 2nd-Round Indian Wells performance with a 3rd-Round finish in Miami, where she gave Na Li one of the toughest matches of Li’s tournament…forcing a tie-break in the first set and picking up 3-games in the second.

Hello Elina Svitolina. After losing to Ana Ivanovic in Indian Well’s 2nd-Round, Elina took out Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Eugenie Bouchard and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova before falling to Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7(5) 7-5, 2-6 in the 4th-Round at the Sony Open.

Notable withdrawals on the ladies side: After her Semifinal appearance at Indian Wells, Simona Halep withdrew from the Sony Open with a toe-injury. (Lucky Loser Jana Cepelova would lose to Casey Dellacqua in the 2nd-Round). Also, Alisa Kleybanova – who played through to the 4th-Round of Indian Wells – won her 1st-Round match over Iveta Melzer, then withdrew from the tournament before her 2nd-Round match with Na Li.

Varvara Lepchenko is playing well. She reached the 3rd-Round of Indian Wells and the 4th-Round in Miami. At the Sony Open, after a 1st-Round win over Yanina Wickmayer, then a huge win over Jelena Jankovic; she battled a surprising Tomljanovic – winning 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(2). Not much left in the tank, she fell easily to Caroline Wozniacki in the 4th-Round 0-6, 1-6.

Garbine Muguruza has been one to watch this year…except in the States. She made the Quarterfinals of Auckland; played through qualifying and won 8-matches to capture the Hobart title; reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open; hiccupped in Pattaya City; then reached the Florianopolis Final. After a 1st-Round bye in Indian Wells, she lost to Alisa Kleybanova in straight-sets. After a 1st-Round bye in Miami, she fell to World #69 Ajla Tomljanovic. That’s a bad month.

After winning their 11th title together at Indian Wells, Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng lost in the 1st-Round of the Sony Open to Kimiko Date-Krumm and Barbora Zahlavova Strycocva 2-6, 6-7(7) – But hey, they’re still undefeated in Finals!

And again, just like in the Coachella Valley, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci – once the toughest team to beat in tennis – were taken-out in the Sony Open’s 1st-Round 6-7(7) 6-1, 10-12 by Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro.

Credit to Cara Black and Sania Mirza. After a Finals appearance at Indian Wells, they followed it up with a Semifinal appearance at Miami.

In Men’s Doubles, the 3-seeds at both Indian Wells and Miami have struggled this March. Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo were Semifinalists last year at the ATP World Tour Doubles Finals. They fell in the Quarterfinals to Isner and Querrey at Indian Wells and in Miami’s 2nd-Round to Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi.

Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares are tearing it up as a team in 2014. Last year, they won 5 Titles together in 8 Finals appearances. This year, they’ve reached 3 Finals – including Indian Wells after defeating Wawrinka and Federer in the Semis – but have yet to lift a trophy. In Miami, the pair was taken out in the Quarterfinals by Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who won Rio back in February. Peya and Soares are now 1-2 against the Columbian pairing this year.

How about Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock? Sony Open Semifinalists this year! And look at these impressive wins: 1R Deiton Baughman and Martin Redlicki 7-5, 6-4; 2R Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 4-6, 7-6(4) 10-6; QF Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 7-6(4); SF (L-Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah)

Finally, With the way Indian Wells and Miami are structured, there’s always a slew of interesting 2nd-Round upsets in March. Here are the 2nd Round chokes from the Sony Open:

  • Guillermo Garcia-Lopez def. [23] Gael Monfils 6-2, 7-5
  • Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene def. [27] Vasek Pospisil 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3
  • Edouard Roger-Vasselin def. [25] Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6(5)
  • Joao Sousa def. [26] Gilles Simon 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3
  • Thiemo De Bakker def. [28] Fernando Verdasco 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-2
  • [WC] Marcos Baghdatis def. [24] Philip Kohlschreiber 3-6, 7-6(1) 7-6(5)
  • Julien Benneteau def. [21] Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
  • Madison Keys def. [31] Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2
  • Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic def. [30] Garbine Muguruza 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-1
  • Varvara Lepchenko def. [7] Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(2)
  • Elina Svitolina def. [18] Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-1, 6-2
  • Barboa Zahlavova Strycova def. [13] Roberta Vinci 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
  • Croatia’s Donna Vekic def. [28] Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(5), 7-5
  • Tsvetana Pironkova def. [25] Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-3
  • Coco Vandeweghe def. [21] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(7), 7-5
  • Caroline Garcia def. [27] Klara Zakopalova 7-6(3), 7-6(3)

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THIS WEEK: Monterrey and Charleston for the ladies, Davis Cup for the guys

[one_third]Davis Cup World Group – Quarterfinals

  • Czech Republic vs. Japan
  • Germany vs. France
  • Great Britain vs. Italy
  • Kazakhstan vs. Switzerland[/one_third]

[one_third]Davis Cup Group I – 2nd-Round

  • Brazil vs. Ecuador
  • Dominican Republic vs. Columbia
  • Croatia vs. Poland
  • Israel vs. Slovenia
  • Ukraine vs. Sweden
  • Austria vs. Slovak Republic
  • Uzbekistan vs. China
  • India vs. Korea[/one_third]

[one_third last]Davis Cup Group II – 2nd-Round

  • El Salvador vs. Barbados
  • Peru vs. Mexico
  • Pakistan vs. Philippines
  • Kuwait vs. Thailand
  • Lithuania vs. South Africa
  • Bosnia Herzegovina vs. Finland
  • Belarus vs. Moldova
  • Luxembourg vs. Denmark[/one_third]