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Rediff.com  » Sports » Miami Open PHOTOS: Federer shocked by Nishikori; Djokovic bundles out Murray

Miami Open PHOTOS: Federer shocked by Nishikori; Djokovic bundles out Murray

Last updated on: March 27, 2014 11:05 IST

Miami Open PHOTOS: Federer shocked by Nishikori

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A tireless Kei Nishikori shocked 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Wednesday to claim his second top five scalp in two days and reach the semi-finals of the Sony Open.

After knocking off fourth seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in a three-hour marathon on Tuesday, the 21st ranked Japanese was forced to go the distance again, surviving a two-hour centre court battle with Federer.

Nishikori has been one of Federer's few bogeymen, having now gotten the better of the Swiss maestro in two of their three career meetings.

"To beat Roger, and it's second time to beat him... I thought I really played well, especially in the third," Nishikori told reporters.

"I was hitting both deep and striking well. Everything was going well.

"There was couple of tough moments, but I was fighting through and happy to win today."

Arriving in south Florida riding the momentum from a finals appearance at Indian Wells, Federer had been in superb form, cruising into the Miami quarter-finals without dropping a set, highlighted by 49 minute fourth round win over Richard Gasquet.

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Image: Roger Federer of Switzerland leaves the court after losing to Kei Nishikori of Japan during the Miami Master, Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Wednesday
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'He was more consistent in the second and third so all credit to him'

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A two-time Miami champion, Federer convincingly won the opening set and looked ready for an easy night when he twice went up a break in the second.

But each time, the feisty Nishikori would immediately answer back then broke Federer again at 6-5 to level the match.

With the third set heading towards a tie-break it was Federer who blinked while serving to stay in the match at 5-4, slamming an easy forehand into the net and then sending a return long to hand Nishikori triple match point.

Federer would survive the first two but could not save the third, Nishikori whipping a forehand winner off the return to seal the upset.

"I just couldn't find my rhythm on the serve today," Federer said.

"It was surprising especially after how well I have served and played this week.

"I had the set and a break and up a break again so it is a little frustrating.

"He was more consistent in the second and third so all credit to him."

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Image: Kei Nishikori hits a forehand against Roger Federer on Wednesday
Photographs: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

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Djokovic sends Murray packing

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World No 2 Novak Djokovic ended Andy Murray's reign as Sony Open champion on Wednesday easing past the sixth seeded Briton 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the Miami semi-finals.

For Djokovic, a three-time winner on the Miami hardcourts, the victory was a small measure of revenge as the rivals clashed for the first time since Murray beat the Serb in last year's Wimbledon final.

Murray, playing his first event since splitting with coach Ivan Lendl last week, had looked increasingly comfortable and confident on his own but Djokovic kept the Scotsman under almost constant pressure in blustery conditions.

"I was not surprised about the way he played," said Djokovic.

"I expected him to play well, to be a little bit more aggressive.

"I tried to not allow him to be in the comfort zone because when he strikes the zone, when he feels comfortable on the court, he's striking the ball so well, maybe best in the world."

The road to a fourth Miami title does not get any easier for Djokovic who meets the champion-slayer Nishikori up next.

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Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia stretches to play a backhand against Andy Murray of Great Britain during their quarter-final on Wednesday
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Controversial decision has Murray fuming

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In dramatic contrast to the women's semi between Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska that ended moments earlier on centre court and featured 19 breaks of serve, breaks were hard to come by for Djokovic and Murray in a tight opening set.

Murray had only a single break opportunity against the Serb while Djokovic was able to convert one of his three chances, with the help of a controversial point.

The first set ended in an argument between Murray and the chair umpire, the Scotsman furious that Djokovic was given a point to open the decisive game even though it was clear the Serb reached across the net to hit the ball.

A distracted Murray then lost the next three points on unforced errors as Djokovic claimed the break and set.

"I wasn't sure, from where I was standing, it was a very hard thing to see," said Murray.

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Image: Andy Murray of Great Britain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia discuss the controversial point on Wednesday
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images

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'It maybe had a slight bearing on that game but I was still up a break in the second set'

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"I knew it was close. So that's why I went and asked Novak and he told me he was over the net. That was it.

"(The chair umpire) said, 'yes, he was over the net but he was in line with the net,' so I didn't really understand.

"It maybe had a slight bearing on that game but I was still up a break in the second set."

Djokovic admitted later that he did indeed cross the net but claimed he was unaware it was against the rules because he did not touch the net.

"It's an important point but mentally obviously it distracted him more than it gave me an encouragement," said Djokovic. "It was him, that he got upset ... he made three unforced errors and the set was gone."

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Image: Andy Murray reacts during his match against Novak Djokovic
Photographs: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Tags: Djokovic

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Li sets up Australian Open rematch with Cibulkova

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World No 2 Li Na powered her way past 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5 and into the semi-finals of the Sony Open on Wednesday, setting up another rematch of the Australian Open final against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova.

Li did not play a match until the third round after receiving a first round bye and second round walkover but has since been in sizzling form, reaching the last four without dropping a set.

Earlier on a windswept centre court, Cibulkova fought off three match points to claim a 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 upset win over third seed Radwanska of Poland, propelling her into the top 10 for the first time in her career.

The win set up another clash with Asia's first Grand Slam singles champion, who defeated the Slovakian at MelbournePark in straight sets and again at the quarter-finals at Indian Wells in three sets two weeks ago.

World No 1 Serena Williams, a six-time champion on the Miami hardcourts, will take on five-time runnerup Maria Sharapova in the other semi-final.

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Image: Na Li of China celebrates match point against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark on Wednesday
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images

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'It wasn't easy at all to play today against Aga'

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With players struggling in cool, blustery conditions, 10th seed Cibulkova reached the final four for the first time in eight visits to Miami despite being broken 10 times by Radwanska, committing 51 unforced errors and eight double faults.

The match was not of the same quality the pair showed in their Australian Open semi-final earlier this year, as Cibulkova waited until the fourth game of the second set before managing to hold serve for the first time.

"I have to say I'm really glad, especially about my win today," said Cibulkova, who took out three-time champion Venus Williams in the fourth round.

"It wasn't easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots."

With the wind whipping and swirling around centre court, the game opened with five consecutive breaks before Radwanska held serve to grab a 4-2 lead.

But the set would end the way it began with three more breaks and Radwanska taking a 1-0 lead.

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Image: Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia plays a backhand against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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'In these matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky'

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The slew of breaks extended into the second set with three more before Cibulkova finally held serve.

Trailing 5-4 in the second set and serving to stay alive, Cibulkova staved off three match points before holding and then breaking Radwanska en route to winning the set in a tiebreak.

"It was so close, the second set," said Radwanska.

"But I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky.

"I was just playing good and she was both."

Radwanska, with her left knee and right shoulder already heavily taped, called for the trainer at the changeover and had even more plaster applied to right hand.

When play resumed Radwanska quickly found herself down a break and could never regain control, Cibulkova eventually falling onto her back and raising her hands in triumph after watching the Pole's return sail long.


Image: Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland reacts as she commits an error against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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