By Tucker Verdi
Novak Djokovic’s journey back to the top of the sport is a long one, something he knew when he decided to enter into Indian Wells and the Miami Open back-to-back.
A second consecutive second round exit probably wasn’t what he had in mind, however, when he walked onto Stadium Court to take on the 47th-ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire.
But it’s exactly what he got when he hit a forehand into the net to seal Paire’s 6-3, 6-4 win that took just a little over an hour.
“I felt I started the match well, first six games, then I just ran out of gas,” the 12-time Grand Slam winner explained. “I just wasn’t able to break him down. He was just coming up with the good shots at the right time.”
Asked whether he thought he had a chance of winning when he stepped onto the court, responding, “I wouldn’t go out on the court if I don’t believe I can win a tennis match.
“I love this sport,” he added. “Unfortunately I’m not at the level they would like to see me at and I would like to see myself at. But it is what it is. Life goes on.”
Play went on, as well, following his loss, with No. 2 seed Marin Cilic coasting into the third round and third-seeded Grigor Dmitrov coming back from a first set loss to fend off Maximillian Marterer 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro escaped a marathon challenge by veteran player Robin Haase. The two engaged in furious rallies and each tried their hand at pumping up the crowd before the 2009 US Open champ del Potro came out on top 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. He aims to advance to his second consecutive Masters final following his win over World No. 1 Roger Federer in Indian Wells.
A pair of Americans – Michael Mmoh and Jared Donaldson – upset a pair of ranked Spaniards in Roberto Bautista Agut (No. 12) and Feliciano Lopez (No. 25), respectively, to advance to the third round. Donaldson breezed through his match with the 36-year-old Lopez 6-4, 6-2, while Mmoh – a qualifier – outlasted Bautista Agut in three sets and almost three hours by a score of 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4.
No. 7 seed David Goffin was on and off the court in just over an hour, losing his first match back since being hit in the eye with a tennis ball in Stuttgart to Joao Sousa 6-0, 6-1.
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.