By Tucker Verdi
A testy exchange of words and a cold handshake defined what should have been an unglamorous match between the No. 31 seed and an unseeded qualifier. But that unseeded qualifier, Thanasi Kokkinakis, had just defeated Roger Feder, so of course people were paying attention.
The heated volley of words began with Kokkinakis complaining to the umpire about his opponent – Spaniard Fernando Verdasco – interrupting his service motion. Verdasco responded in kind by complaining about an individual in Kokkinakis’ player box who was interrupting his service motion. That individual: Kokkinakis’ father.
Drama aside, it was a high-intensity match, lasting 2 hours and 54 minutes. Kokkinakis took the first 6-3, Verdasco took the second 6-4, and the third set went to a tiebreak to decide the match. Kokkinakis stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak but failed to capitalize, losing his next two service points and eventually the tiebreak 7-4.
No. 17 seed Nick Kyrgios sailed through to the fourth round with a straight sets win over No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3. The Australian, who has been plagued by injury this year, is a two-time semifinalist this year and has yet to face a break point in the tournament.
The highest remaining seed in the top half – No. 4 Alexander Zverev – had to stage a comeback after dropping the first set to David Ferrer 2-6. The 20-year-old German turned the match around and won 6-2, 6-4 to advance to a fourth round matchup with Kyrgios.
2016 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson also dropped the first set to Russian Karen Khachanov 4-6, but stormed back to win easily at 6-2, 6-3.
It was a bad day for Americans as three exited the tournament on Monday. No. 8 seed Jack Sock fell to No. 29 seed Borna Coric, who advances to his second consecutive Masters round of 16 following his semifinal run in Indian Wells with a 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 win. No. 11 seed Sam Querrey was upset by 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov. Shapovalov double faulted 12 times in the match, but still pulled out a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win. And No. 16 seed Pablo Carreno Busta beat unseeded American Steve Johnson in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.
One American’s fate in the third round is yet to be decided, as the match between Frances Tiafoe and No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych was delayed due to rain with Tiafoe leading 6(2)-7, 6-2, 5-4. It will be picked up this afternoon and the winner will play again later in the evening against Kevin Anderson.
For full results of the day’s action, visit miamiopen.com/2018-results.
About the Miami Open presented by Itaú
The 2018 Miami Open will be played March 19-April 1 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men's and women's tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.
Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 94,000 employees and operations in 19 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions.