MIAMI (Agencies): Novak Djokovic
remains on course for a record seventh Miami Open title, but the world number
one admitted to a loss of focus in a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory over spirited
Federico Delbonis which booked his place in the last 16.
Djokovic is hoping to eclipse Andre
Agassi’s six ATP crowns in South Florida over the next week and although the
31-year-old endured some shaky moments at Hard Rock Stadium, he still possessed
enough quality during the key moments to see off the battling Delbonis. The
Serbian, though, wasn’t happy with letting a 5-2 advantage slip in the first
set and became furious with himself as the second squirmed from his grasp.
He will need to tighten up his
game if he is to reach next Sunday’s final with Roberto Bautista Agut waiting
in the fourth round after the Spaniard defeated Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4.
“To be honest, I lost my focus,” said Djokovic who smashed 36 winners
compared to 24 from Delbonis. “I should have done better I think mentally
than I have done at the end of the first two sets.
“I managed to really play
well last couple games of first set, go up a break, put myself in front, then I
played a couple of really bad service games. Credit to Federico, he stepped
in.” Djokovic had looked impressive in the second round win over Bernard
Tomic and the Serbian continued his decent form by immediately imposing himself
onto the Argentine. Djokovic moved 5-2 ahead but after he missed a set point
opportunity on the Delbonis serve, his game deserted him and suddenly, the
South American had a spring in his step.
Delbonis had opportunities to
steal ahead, yet calling on all his experience and mental resolve, the Serbian
was able to hold firm and take the opener. The world number one was getting
incredibly frustrated , he received a warning for racquet abuse and was furious
for allowing a 3-1 lead to slip in the second, yet credit to Delbonis who
stayed calm and served out confidently to force a decider, something which
looked beyond him midway through the opening set.
He couldn’t keep the pressure on,
however, and when Djokovic managed to get 3-1 ahead, this time there was no way
back for the 28 year-old from Azul who rightly received an ovation from the
center court crowd for his monumental efforts. “I think last four games
were terrific, so I ended up in a positive way,” Djokovic added.
Defending champion John Isner
blew Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas off court with serves touching 139 mph as the
American sealed an ultimately comprehensive 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) win to set up an
intriguing match with Kyle Edmund in the last 16 after the British number one
impressively saw off Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4. In the women’s draw, Simona
Halep kept alive hopes of regaining the world number one ranking Sunday,
beating Polona Hercog 5-7, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 to reach the last 16 where she will
play Venus Williams. Halep, 27, lost her place at the top of the rankings
following Naomi Osaka’s triumph at the Australian Open earlier this year.
But with the Japanese faltering
here on Saturday, Halep can return to the position she last held at the end of
2018 if she lands the Miami Open for the first time. “It’s always tough
against Venus,” said the current world number three, who has beaten the
American in their previous three encounters. “I’m not going to say that
it’s going to be easier because I won the last matches against her. It’s a big
challenge for me.” Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, meanwhile,
swept past Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1. “Simona always plays flawless
tennis against me, so I have to be ready for that,” Williams said.
Elsewhere in women’s action,
American Sloane Stephens’s title defense ended in a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Germany’s
It was another disappointing
ending for Stephens, who fell in the third round at Indian Wells.