Miami Open: Verdasco stuns Nadal in 3rd Rd

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The two Spaniards shake hands after Verdasco's (r) win.

Fernando Verdasco upset second seed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 Sunday in a third-round matchup of Spaniards to advance at the ATP and WTA Miami Open.

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Nadal, a four-time Miami runner-up, leaves the Masters Series hardcourt event without a title again this year after his 11th appearance.

Verdasco, ranked 34th, defeated Nadal for the second time in a row after losing their first 13 meetings, although that most recent prior meeting came three years ago in Madrid.

“Obviously always beating a player like Rafa is one of the biggest victories that you can have in tennis,” Verdasco said. “It’s a huge victory and it’s always really nice to play in an almost packed stadium against one of the best players in history.”

Also advancing with victories Sunday were world number one Serena Williams and Britain’s Andy Murray.

Nadal saved a match point in the eighth game of the second set trailing 5-2, but Verdasco closed out the shocker a game later with a return winner.

The 14-time grand slam champion said after the defeat that his formerly untouchable game needs work and the mental side may now be his weak link.

“I need to fix again the nerves, the self control on court. It’s not a tough issue to fix. I’m going to keep trying,” Nadal said. “I’m practicing with the right attitude, I think. I’m arriving in an important part of the season for me (clay). I didn’t want arrive to that part of the season with that loss of today, obviously, but that part of the season will arrive.”

Murray won his 499th career match, downing Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round. The 27-year-old Scotsman, winner of the title in 2009 and 2013, would become the ninth active player to reach 500 victories if he wins his next match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who eliminated Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-4.

“I obviously want to try and win more, and hopefully still have quite a few years ahead of me left to add to that number. It’s a lot of wins. It’s not easy these days to win that many matches, so that’s a good sign,” said Murray.

In women’s play, Williams crushed a teen less than half her age, defeating American Catherine Bellis 6-1, 6-1. The 15-year-old challenger was no match for the 33-year-old Williams, a 19-time Grand Slam champion bidding for a record eighth trophy here.

Bellis, the junior world number one, found herself in a major test against the game’s current dominator in her first WTA appearance since the US Open.

World number one Williams is competing in Miami for the 15th time since debuting as a teenager herself in 1998, a year before Bellis was born.

Williams will next face Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, a winner over German 13th seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Aiming for a third consecutive Miami title, Williams stretched her win streak to 14 matches at Crandon Park. Her career Miami record now stands at 69-7.

Williams wrapped up the affair in 41 minutes with 15 winners and five breaks of the prodigy’s serve. Bellis committed 21 unforced errors.

“If you break down her age and her ability and how well I think she handled the moment and how well she played, I think it was good,” Williams said.

Third seed Simona Halep defeated Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 to continue the momentum she took from last week’s title at Indian Wells.

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Miami Open: Novak Djokovic overcomes wobble, Serena Williams cruises into third round

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Novak Djokovic celebrates after victory in his match against Martin Klizan.

Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams launched their Miami Open repeat bids in constrasting style on Saturday, Djokovic battling past Martin Klizan as Williams cruised into the third round.

Djokovic, the top seed who is looking for a fifth Miami Masters crown, had to work for his 6-0, 5-7, 6-1 second-round victory over Slovakia's Klizan.

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The world number one, who beat Roger Federer last weekend for the Indian Wells crown in California, is hoping to duplicate his North American March hardcourt title double of last year.

In fact, the Serb is bidding to become the first man to complete the sweep three times.

He looked well on his way to a quick win when he snapped up the opening set against his 41st-ranked opponent in 23 minutes.

He won the first seven games before Klizan got onto the scoreboard and appeared set to serve out a quick victory with a 5-3 lead in the second.

Steve Darcis of Belgium plays a forehand en route to victory over Gilles Muller.

But he dropped his serve and Klizan went on to win the second set before Djokovic re-established control and earned the victory after one hour, 56 minutes.

Djokovic next plays Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis, a 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3 winner over Gilles Muller.

Women's world number one Williams had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Monica Niculescu.

The 33-year-old American, who had a much harder time getting past the Romanian spin-merchant in her Indian Wells opener, showed no sign of the knee injury that forced her to forfeit her quarter-final in California last week.

Williams next faces 15-year-old compatriot Catherine "CiCi" Bellis.

Bellis advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 29th-seeded Zarina Diyas on Friday.

In other men's matches, Japanese fourth seed Kei Nishikori defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-1.

Canadian fifth seed Milos Raonic beat Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-1, 6-4 while Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer beat Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-1, 6-1.

French 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his return from a lingering arm injury with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over American Tim Smyczek.

While Williams looked sharp in her second-round match postponed from Friday by rain, sixth-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard fell at the first hurdle, beaten 6-0, 7-6 (7/4) by German qualifier Tatjana Maria.

In women's third-round play, fourth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki, Russian eighth-seed Ekaterina Makarova and ninth-seeded German Andrea Petkovic all advanced.

Venus Williams also booked a fourth-round berth, with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Australian Samantha Stosur.

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Tim Smyczek on return to reach Miami Masters third round

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Back with a bang: Tsonga defeated Smyczek in three sets at the Miami Masters.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his return to tennis after a lingering arm injury by beating Tim Smyczek yesterday to reach the third round of the Miami Masters.

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Tsonga, who hadn’t played since France’s Davis Cup tie against Switzerland in November, defeated the American 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a match postponed by the rain that washed out Friday’s night session at Crandon Park.

“I didn’t expect to play my best tennis today, but I’m happy the way I managed my match,” said the Frenchman, ranked 13th in the world. “I played pretty solid, I just had a little hole in the second set.

“But it’s normal when you didn’t play since couple of months now,” he added. “I hope it’s going to be better and better, but a first match was already something good for me.”

Tsonga finished with 30 winners and 36 unforced errors against his 74th-ranked opponent. The former Australian Open finalist converted two of his break point chances and delivered 10 aces.

Tsonga next faces good friend and Davis Cup team-mate Gael Monfils, a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) winner over Serb Filip Krajinovic.

“It’s always special to play a good friend,” Tsonga said. “But anyway, we know that on the court there are no friends. But of course, whatever happens on court, we are good friends outside.”

Elsewhere on a schedule catchup day, Japan’s fourth seed Kei Nishikori defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-1 then had to wrestle after his media conference with a wiggly bulldog which has somehow been adopted as a tournament mascot and splashed all over social media.

“Just met Manny The Frenchie! He is very famous! I think more fans than me,” tweeted Asia’s top player and the 2014 US Open runner-up.

France’s Gilles Simon, the 12th seed, joined compatriots Tsonga and Monfils in the third round, beating Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-0.

Adrian Mannarino earned another French win as he defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 In women’s action, there was a second-round shocker for Canadian sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard who was beaten 6-0, 7-6 (7/4) by 113th-ranked German qualifier Tatjana Maria.

Seeds Sara Errani, the Italian No11, and No13 German Angelique Kerber, both advanced in their delayed matches, with Errani defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) and Kerber dismissing Heather Watson 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

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