Saturday saw the completion of the Miami Masters’ second round at the Hard Rock Stadium with a number of seeds — following their first round byes — suffering defeats on their first appearance at the season’s second Masers level event, including the remaining two Brits Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans.
I was just trying to stay in there and compete, play some good shots. Either way, if I won or I lost — obviously I wanted to win so, so much — but either way [I] should have been happy with myself Hubert Hurkacz
From Norrie’s standpoint the 6-3 6-4 loss in 70-minutes to Frenchman Gregoire Barrere was a huge disappointment to a player now renown for his durability, as witnessed during his successful series of results over the last three months.
The British No.1, seeded 11, had recorded 22 wins over that period which included a win over the then world No.2, Carlos Alcaraz in the Rio final.
In contrast the British No.2, Evans, seeded 23, had exited earlier in the day after battling with Lorenzo Sonego of Italy over two hours and 30-minutes, eventually capitulating 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Evans was on course to record his first victory since the Australian Open but couldn’t raise his game in response to his Italian opponent picking up his own after losing the opening set.
The Brit had been struggling with an ankle injury in recent weeks but there were no signs of that as he swept through the opener only to find Sonego more than ready to make a match of it.
The Italian gained control of the second set when he broke Evans for a 3-1 lead and then successfully withstood the pressure applied by the Brummie who had four break opportunities to level.
Sonego now growing in confidence, broke Evans twice in the decider to lead 3-0 which proved more than sufficient for him to pocket the win and advance into the third round.
As intimated, there were plenty of seeds who fell at this stage.
Amongst them was Aussie Alex de Minuar , the 15th seed, who was frustrated by Quentin Halys, a Frenchman ranked 79, who was eventually ousted after a three-hours and 18-minute marathon, 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 7-6(8).
Also out is Italian Matteo Berrettini, seeded 19, who came through a similar scenario albeit one hour and a set shorter, losing 7-6(8) 7-6(5) to American Mackenzie McDonald after two-hours and 16-minutes.
Another Italian, the 18th seed, Lorenzo Musetti, became the fourth of the top 20 seeds to be defeated on the day. His conqueror was Jihiri Lehecka, the 21-year-old who is fast making a name for himself. The in-form Czech won comfortably 6-4 6-4.
Of the seeds who did succeed into advancing into round three, Daniil Medvedev showed no signs of disappointment following his final loss to Alcaraz at Indian Wells, which had brought to an end his successive run of 19 wins, including three titles in as many weeks.
The lanky 27-year-old Russian rolled past the 30-year-old Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1 6-2, converting four breaks whilst never losing his serve throughout the 62-minute one-sided contest, dominating his opponent from the outset and delivering 18 winners to Carballes Baena’s five.
Medvedev also made use of the drop shot, which Alcaraz had deployed to good effect against him last week, and joked that he had been trying to emulate the world number one.
“I thought I needed to use that shot more. I’ve always liked drop shots but it’s not a weapon in my game that I’m going to use 50 times a match,” he said after becoming the first player on both the men’ and women’s tours to record 25 wins so far this season.
“You need to have confidence in the shot and today it worked pretty well,” concluding, “I’m happy with my first match, solid performance, looking forward for next matches.”
Meanwhile former semi-finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime got the better of Brazilian Thiago Monteiro in two breakers 7-6(5) 7-6(8).
The 22-year-old Canadian delivered 12 aces which he nearly matched with seven double faults, losing just six points on his first serve and never facing a break point throughout.
The match of the day was undoubtebly the former champion and eight seeded Hubert Hurkacz and the Lucky Loser from Australia Thanasi Kokkinakis with the Pole just edging the result after three-hours and 30-minutes, 6-7(10) 7-6(7) 7-6(6), saving five match points in the process, three in the first tiebreak and two in the second.
“It’s tough to explain for me. I knew I was playing good tennis, I mean Thanasi as well,” Hurkacz said post-match. “I was just trying to stay in there and compete, play some good shots. Either way, if I won or I lost — obviously I wanted to win so, so much — but either way [I] should have been happy with myself.”
In other action the 14th-seeded Karen Khachanov toppled Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina 6-1 3-6 6-3 and the 12th seeded Frances Tiafoe of the US won a late-night rollercoaster over Yosuke Watanuki of Japan 6-7(5) 7-6(3),6-4.
Qualifier Christopher Eubanks upended the 17th seed Borna Coric of Croatia 3-6 6-4 6-2 for the best win of his career while Adrian Mannarino of France also pulled off a good win over the 32nd-seeded American Ben Shelton 6-4 3-6 6-1.
The 26-year-old Eubanks, ranked 119th in the world, recovered from a first set where the Croat looked in firm control to the delight the home crowd.
“I honestly felt like I wasn’t playing that bad. I just wasn’t executing,” Eubanks said. “I felt like my game plan was right. I wanted to be disruptive. I wanted to get the net. I just wasn’t executing on shots. I can kind of live with that.
“So I said, ‘Well, I feel like I’m playing the right way. If I just continue to try it, hopefully the execution errors will lessen and I’ll be able to find my range.’ I was able to do that.”
Finally, the second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas wasn’t even called to court as the veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet pulled out injured thereby handing the Greek a walkover into round three.