The retiring Spaniard David Ferrer is still capable of playing on a very high level, something he demonstrated against the 2nd seed Alexander Zverev on Saturday night in Miami, defeating the German 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 22 minutes to reach the third round!
Zverev is yet to find the form in 2019 and this was another early exit after Indian Wells, facing 14 break points against the veteran and getting broken five times. Ferrer, who lost the last four encounters against the youngster, played better on the second serve, repelling four out of seven break points and crossing the finish line with a double break in the deciding set.
It was not a high-quality match by any means but the Spaniard managed to tame his strokes more efficiently, having the upper hand in the most extended exchanges to seal the deal and advance into the last 32 14 years after he did that for the first time in 2005!
Things looked good for the favorite who scored three straight breaks to grab the opener 6-2 after a double fault from Ferrer in game eight. The Spaniard responded with a break at the start of the second set when Zverev hit the net with the serve twice, serving well and opening a 4-2 lead before Sascha broke back in game eight after forcing an error from the opponent.
Instead of building on that, Zverev got broken at 5-5 thanks to a volley winner from Ferrer who held at 30 for a 7-5 and the deciding set where he had the momentum now. Sascha lost the ground completely and David broke him at love at 2-2, crossing the finish line with another break in game nine to prolong his final Miami journey at least for another match.
After reaching the quarter-final at the Australian Open, Frances Tiafoe has lost five of the last six encounters, hoping to bounce back here in Miami and making a winning start following a 7-6, 7-6 triumph over another youngster Miomir Kecmanovic in two hours and four minutes.
After interesting junior clashes they had, this was the first meeting between Frances and Miomir on the Tour and it turned out to be a mighty close one, with the American taking just three points more than the Serb. Kecmanovic had a 4-1 lead in the first set and he certainly had the opportunities in the second, wasting them all to finish his run in the second round after playing in the last eight at Indian Wells.
Tiafoe suffered three breaks from four chances he offered to Kecmanovic who had to work harder in his games, defending 11 out of 14 break points to stay in touch before falling in both tie breaks to send Frances through. The 8th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas needed an hour and 25 minutes to oust Mackenzie McDonald 7-6, 6-1, losing just 12 points on serve and securing four breaks to control the scoreboard after an early setback.
The American broke first in the third game of the match, staying in front until game eight when Stefanos pulled it back with a forehand winner to level the score at 4-4. Mackenzie erased a set point at 4-5 to reach the tie break that Tsitsipas won 7-4 after a beautiful volley winner at the net.
The Greek sailed through the second set with three breaks of serve, moving over the finish line when McDonald netted a volley in game seven to secure the place in the last 32. The 21-year-old Reilly Opelka is through to the third round at Masters 1000 event for the first time following a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over the 21st seed Diego Schwartzman in two hours and 18 minutes.
It was a mighty close match and the Argentinian won three points more in the end, halting Reilly on just eight aces but missing his chances in the decider, wasting all five break points and suffering a break in game seven to push the youngster through.
Another player born in 1997 is still in the draw, with Andrey Rublev ousting the 9th seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes. A qualifier lost serve twice but that was never a problem after creating mind-blowing 22 break chances, grabbing four breaks to seal the deal in straight sets!
The Russian had 25 winners and 19 unforced errors, the ratio that Marin couldn't repeat after spraying more than 30 mistakes from both wings. Cilic forged a lead with a break in game two but Andrey was ready to deliver quick response, stealing rival's serve in games three and five and creating five more chances at 4-2.
Marin saved them to prolong the set and Andrey clinched it with a hold in game ten for a 6-4. A backhand down the line winner secured the crucial break for Rublev at 4-4 in set number two, ensuring the triumph with a hold in game ten for a much needed big scalp after turbulent 12 months he has had.