By Fernie Ruano Jr.
On an ordinary day, World No, 2 Novak Djokovic, the second seed at the 2014 Sony Open Tennis, is unbelievably difficult to overcome. But on a day where Djokovic takes Stadium Court first ahead of some of the biggest names in tennis, well, that might be just too much to ask.
That’s what No. 16 Tommy Robredo found out on Tuesday after play resumed at the Sony Open, following a short rain delay. It took an hour and change, but Djokovic defeated Robredo 6-3, 7-5 in the Day Session’s first match to secure a spot in the quarterfinals, while improving to 6-1 all-time against the Spaniard. Djokovic, a 3-time Key Biscayne champion, improved his all-time mark to 28-5 at the tournament. “I have done well. I have served well. I made him play an extra shot in important moments, and that’s why I’m satisfied with the overall match today,” said Djokovic.
Djokovic took 4 minutes to hold serve and take an early lead 2-1 in the opening set, and broke Robredo in the fourth game to go up two games. Displaying solid court coverage and returning seemingly every shot, Djokovic, who had 19 winners and 5 aces, took a 4-1 lead. A volley just short of the net wrapped up Game 6 for Robredo, but Novak took 2 minutes to break back and reclaim a two game lead before closing out the set.
Down a set and game entering the eighth game of the second set, Robredo, who tried to match power with Djokovic by pumping in up to 125 mile-per-hour serves for much of the afternoon, would not go away quietly. He took four of the next six points while forcing the usually unflappable Serb into 2 unforced errors while breaking his serve, knotting it at 4-all.
Robredo, whose lone victory in six previous attempts against Djokovic came eight years ago in Paris, hit a backhand winner to hold serve and take a 5-4 lead to the delight of crowd, as they rallied behind the Spaniard with “Go Tommy” chants. But Djokovic was just too much – Novak ratcheted up his serve to 125 mph’s in Game 10, leading to 3 service point winners to hold serve before quickly breaking Robredo to take a 6-5 lead. Djokovic closed it out a minute later with 4 consecutive points.
As well as showing devastating form, Djokovic also displayed true sportsmanship when in the third game of the second set he conceded a point to his opponent after the umpire had ordered a replay of the point, following a successful challenge by Robredo. “For me it’s something that is part of the sport and fair play that, you know, I think I expect everybody else to do the same.”
In the other early match, Japan’s Kei Nishikori outlasted No. 4 seed David Ferrer in one of the best matches of the Sony Open so far, winning a grueling 3-hour plus match 7-6(7), 2-6, 7-6(9). Nishikori survived four match points in the third set tiebreaker and finally won after Ferrer hit a groundstroke wide.