Paire Comes Up Aces, Ousts Djokovic
Benoit Paire reached the semi-finals at his first two events of the season (Pune, Sydney), and would later advance to the quarter-finals in Montpellier. But after losing to World No. 231 Mitchell Krueger at the BNP Paribas Open, he did not have much momentum arriving in Miami.
But the Frenchman proved he did not need it, defeating six-time champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 in a 67-minute second-round match Friday at the Miami Open presented by Itau to hand the former World No.1 his third consecutive loss. The Serbian had not lost three straight matches since the end of 2007, when he dropped his final five matches of the season.
Djokovic, who is tied with his coach, Andre Agassi, for the most trophies raised at Crandon Park, is still recovering from an elbow injury that kept him out for six months. The right-hander had won 30 of his past 31 matches in Miami, and left the event victorious in his past three appearances.
This was just the 30-year-old's third tournament since 2017 Wimbledon, and he had won his only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against Paire (2015 Cincinnati). Since the end of 2010, Djokovic had won 58 of 59 matches against Frenchmen, with his only loss coming at the 2014 Rogers Cup against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Paire moves into the third round in Miami for the third straight year, where he will face No. 22 seed Filip Krajinovic. The 28-year-old had lost five consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000-level matches before beginning his tournament in South Florida.
It appeared that Djokovic would turn the match around when he broke the Frenchman for the first time in the match at 2-4 in the second set. But while he began to break down Paire's forehand, which sprayed erratically at times, Djokovic could not complete the turnaround.
Krajinovic moved into the third round in Miami for the first time with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Liam Broady, who had not played a Masters 1000 match prior to this tournament. The Serbian has now won at least one match in five straight tournaments.
Third seed Grigor Dimitrov survived a scare when he fought back to deny German Maximilian Marterer 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. The Bulgarian found his range to run away with the final two sets in a welcome return to form, having fallen in the first round in his prior two events (Dubai l. to Jaziri, Indian Wells l. to Verdasco).
Dimitrov dropped just six points on his first serve and managed to fend off five of six break points to advance. He will next meet Jeremy Chardy after the Frenchman earlier defeated compatriot and No. 30 seed Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-1. Dimitrov leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Chardy 3-1.
Did You Know?
Djokovic had won 58 of his past 59 matches against Frenchmen.