Nishikori, Kuznetsov Advance At Miami Open
The Japanese and the Russian win in straight sets to move into the third round
The best season of Andrey Kuznetsov's career reached a new peak on Saturday afternoon at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
The 25-year-old controlled his nerves like a veteran and outplayed World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 19 minutes to move into the third round of the Miami Open for the first time.
Kuznetsov, who's playing in Miami for the second time of his nine-year career, had never won a match at the tournament before this week. But the World No. 51 looked like the more comfortable player against Wawrinka.
Kuznetsov was more more willing to work the points and stay in rallies than the Swiss, who slapped 34 unforced errors to 16 winners. The Russian also mixed up his attack nicely, rallying with Wawrinka from the baseline and ending points at the net. Kuznetsov won all 11 of the net points he played and hit 22 winners to 21 unforced errors.
He also avenged his straight-set loss to Wawrinka last week in Indian Wells. The Russian also has now won more tour-level matches this year – 12 – than he did during all of 2015 – 10.
Most encouraging for Kuznetsov, though, might have been how he finished on Saturday. He won the final eight points, holding at love and breaking Wawrinka at love as the World No. 4 faltered.
World No. 6 Kei Nishikori also moved into the third round, dismissing French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-2, 7-6(4) on Saturday. Herbert had won the doubles title in Indian Wells last weekend with countryman Nicolas Mahut, but Nishikori broke Herbert three times to advance.
Nishikori, who reached the Miami semi-finals in 2013, will play No. 27 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine in the third round. Dolgopolov beat Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-4. Nishikori leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against the Ukrainian 3-0.
Canadian Milos Raonic also booked a spot in the third round by winning in straight sets. Raonic beat American Denis Kudla 7-6(4), 6-4. Raonic saved all six break points faced and hit 13 aces against Kudla, No. 63 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
The No. 12 seed will next face another American Jack Sock. The No. 22 seed won by default when Sergiy Stakhovsky retired down 2-6, 2-3 during their second-round match. Raonic leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Sock 6-1. His only loss occurred the first time they played, on hard courts in 2013 in Memphis.
Gael Monfils also won easily in Miami. In less than an hour, Monfils dismissed Japanese qualifier Tatsuma Ito 6-3, 6-2 on Court 2. The Frenchman struck nine aces and broke Ito three times. The No. 16 seed next will face No. 23 seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, who eliminated John Millman of Australia 7-5, 6-4.
Nick Kyrgios overwhelmed Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-1 in under an hour to advance to the third round. The Aussie excelled in playing first-strike tennis, firing 14 aces and winning 55 per cent of return points against the Cypriot to set up a meeting against Tim Smyczek. Smyczek survived 24 aces from Isner and secured his second victory against a Top-20 player 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5) when Isner double-faulted on match point.