Top-ranked Novak Djokovic battles into Miami quarters

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic battles into Miami quarters

World number one Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals of the ATP and WTA Miami Open on Tuesday by defeating Austrian 14th seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4.

Two-time defending champion Djokovic, a five-time Miami winner overall, reached a last-eight date against Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who outlasted French 10th seed Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Berdych has won only two of 24 meetings with Djokovic, having lost their past nine matches since a 2013 Rome quarter-final victory.

Djokovic, also a champion at Indian Wells and Doha this year, stretched his Miami win streak to 13 matches and 27 of his past 28 in all, but not without a struggle.

Djokovic fought off 13 of 14 break points, four of them in a dramatic 14-minute final game before hitting a forehand winner on his fourth match point opportunity.

"He played really well," Djokovic said. "It was a straight-set win but it was far from easy. I kept my serves. But I made a lot of double faults and he had me under a lot of pressure."

The 28-year-old Serbian made eight double faults and 29 unforced errors against only two aces and eight winners.

Djokovic won his 11th Grand Slam title two months ago at the Australian Open and has also won this year at Doha and Indian Wells while Thiem captured titles last month at Acapulco and Buenos Aires.

Djokovic broke Thiem`s first service game and held from there to claim the opening set, but not before fighting off four break points in the last game, finally taking it on a service winner.

Breaking Thiem again for a 2-1 edge in the second set, Djokovic finally surrendered a break with a double fault to pull Thiem level 3-3, only to break back in the next game and hold to the thrilling finish.

Romanian fifth seed Simona Halep was ousted 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 by 19th-ranked Swiss Timea Bacsinszky, who advanced to a semi-final against the winner of a later match between Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ekaterina Makarova.

"To beat someone who fights as hard as she does, it`s something amazing," Bacsinszky said. "I`m happy with it."

Bacsinszky`s "lucky charm" and friend, Swiss women`s overall Alpine ski champion Lara Gut, was in the crowd.

Only one of the 12 top women`s seeds remains, German number two Angelique Kerber, who beat Serena Williams in the Australian Open final for her first Grand Slam title. She plays American Madison Keys on Wednesday for a semi-final spot.

Only four of the top 10 men`s seeds reached Miami`s last 16, matching an event record low, with three of them in the same quarter of the draw.

The fourth is Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori, who plays Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in a night match.

Australian 24th seed Nick Kyrgios, the youngest top-30 ATP player at age 20, reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 victory over Russia`s 51st-ranked Andrey Kuznetsov.

Kyrgios, off to a career-best 13-3 start that includes his first ATP title last month at Marseille, next plays Canadian 12th seed Milos Raonic, who ripped Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-0, 6-3.

The Aussie never trailed in the tie-breaker and took the only break of the second set when Kuznetsov double faulted away the fourth game.

Despite the defeat, Kuznetsov is assured of cracking the top 50 for the first time and becoming Russian number one.

Raonic breezed through the first set in 21 minutes and ended matters with his 11th ace after only 54 minutes.

Belgian 15th seed David Goffin reached the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Argentina`s 112th-ranked Horacio Zeballos, a qualifying lucky loser who made the field only after Roger Federer withdrew due to illness.

Goffin, who reached the Indian Wells semi-finals before losing to Raonic, will next face French 18th seed Gilles Simon, who routed 88th-ranked compatriot Lucas Pouille 6-0, 6-1 in 57 minutes.


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