The world no. 1 Novak Djokovic has improved his 2019 tally to 13-2, beating Federico Delbonis 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in two hours for the place in the fourth round and the 44th win in Miami. Two days after ousting Bernard Tomic, the six-time Miami champion struggled a little bit against the left-handed Argentinian who maintained a high level in sets one and two before the Serb took charge on Hard Rock Stadium in the decider to set the exciting Roberto Bautista Agut clash.
Djokovic suffered three breaks of serve, wasting a handful lead in the opener and allowing Delbonis to steal his serve twice in a row in set number two to prolong the encounter and get a chance to play another set against the world's best competitor.
Djokovic had 12 winners and 19 unforced errors, with Delbonis dictating the pace to fire 31 winners and 39 mistakes (the most from the backhand wing), matching Novak's numbers in the shortest and longest exchanges but falling behind in the mid-range ones that gave Djokovic the triumph in the end.
The top seed kicked off the match in strong fashion, finding the range on serve in the first four service games and moving in front when Federico netted a backhand in game four. A service winner sent Novak 5-2 up after just 24 minutes and he created a set point on the return in the following game after a stunning defense.
Delbonis saved it with a service winner and that was the turning point, breaking Djokovic at 15 in game nine with a forehand down the line winner to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard. From 30-0 down on serve at 5-5, Novak won four points in a row to avoid further problems, breaking Federico at 15 to take the opener 7-5 after 47 minutes.
Great crosscourt forehand secured the break for the Serb in the fourth game of the second set, sailing towards the finish line before a big twist in the tale, with Delbonis winning five of the next six games for a complete turnaround.
The Argentinian broke back in game five with a stellar backhand down the line winner, gaining the momentum after a broken racquet from Novak who suffered another break in game seven thanks to a costly double fault. Federico repelled three break points in the following game to cement the lead and held at love with a service winner at 5-4 to seal the set and force a decider.
Still, Djokovic was on a decent level once again, serving with ease and breaking in games four and six for a huge 5-1 lead, sealing the deal with a hold at love in game seven to safely reach the fourth round and stay on the course for the record-breaking seventh Miami crown.