Wherever there’s a JT report about Australian tennis, St Nicholas of Canberra is not too far behind.
Of course the major change for Miami this year is the move from the old site at Key Biscayne (Where many players complained about the slow courts), to Miami Gardens and the new site at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins have been chronically underperforming since 1987.
So far it’s looking pretty good- They broke the tournament’s single day attendance record on Thursday… then Friday.. and then Saturday, which topped out at 32,831.
ATP: Nick, Nick and Nick
Alex De Minaur withdrew from the tournament after after his loss at Indian Wells due to illness, and will probably now be preparing for the clay court season starting in a few weeks.
It’s been a mixed bag for the men: John Millman snagged the 32nd seed thanks to a heap of withdrawals (Including Rafael Nadal), but he took Federico Delbonis the distance with a 3rd set tiebreak, only to lose 10-8.
Matt Ebden took on qualifier Radu Albot (Very popular for his presence on the Reddit tennis sub) and was bageled in the first set 6-0, before having to retire down 2-3 in the 2nd.
Bernard Tomic won his first round before he had the misfortune of encountering Novak Djokovic, although Bernie did put up a good fight and extended the 1st set into a tiebreak, Novak was too good and won it 7-2, and then wrapped it up 6-2 in the 2nd- Ironically, he played Delbonis in the 3rd round.
One of the two remaining Aussie men is none other than Jordan Thompson, who I once believed had his hat permanently welded onto his head.
Thompson got out of the 1st Round against Cameron Norrie after losing the 1st set, then won the 2nd set in a tiebreak 7-5, and them steamed home 6-3 in the final set.
But Thommo went one better a few days later, pulling off the big upset of 10th seed Karen Khachanov, and he never looked like falling in a heap, winning 6-2 6-3, his biggest win since he beat then-World Number One Andy Murray at Queen’s in 2017 (Just before Murray’s hip injuries wrecked him).
Prior to Indian Wells, Thommo had never won a main draw match at a Masters tournament!
And last but not least, the one, the only, Nicholas Hilmy Kyrgios.
The entertainment kicked off in the Doubles, where Kyrgios was partnered with Taylor Fritz, and they lost a close 1st Round to Gudio Pella and Joao Sousa 10-8 in the 3rd set tiebreak, and while his partner Fritz was relatively mellow after the match, Kyrgios launched some (bordering on trademark) expletive scud missiles on the chair umpire .
Channel Nine sports presenter Tony ‘Chompers’ Jones, known for his enormous levels of dental work (Hence, Chompers) and his useless attempts at wishing Bec Judd happy birthday, provided his take by declaring that Kyrgios should be banned for 3 months for his latest tirade.
Thanks, Uncle Chomp Chomp, I personally think he should be let off the leash like some heel in the WWE. But nobody’s going to listen to either of us, are they?
More importantly, Kyrgios was also in the singles draw with a bye into the 2nd round, and this week, the Circle of Nick is primed for “Deep Run In Tournament”.
Kyrgios took on the Kazakh Alexander Bublik, who apparently doesn’t even have a photo on Google so little is he known, and it showed, as Kyrgios didn’t give up a break and won 7-5 6-3.
After that, it was on to Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic in the 3rd round on Sunday evening/Monday afternoon, and to put it simply, there was never, ever, a dull moment.
In between dazzling three shades of blue out of the Serb, he got into a trash talk battle with some loudmouthed fan, which apparently started when he insulted Nick’s haircut, and then the back-and-forth went on throughout the night, with moments like Kyrgios asking the man if he got a free ticket, asking him why he was at the stadium on a Sunday night, and asking him where his ‘fam’ was.
And there was also Nick throwing him a tennis ball and sarcastically clapping him, which did earn him a code violation for delaying the match.
But in the end, the Miami fuzz stepped in and killed off the trash talk, giving the spectator an escort out of the stadium, as Kyrgios gave him a warm farewell!
Nick was at his best: Big serving, cheeky drop shots, and he brought back the Australian trademark that he used on Rafa in Mexico: The time honoured underarm!
In the end, the power of Saint Nicholas was way too good for Lajovic, winning 6-3 6-1 in just on an hour of play.
Next up for Kyrgios in the Round of 16- World Number 13, Borna Coric, while Jordan Thompson has a date with Grigor Dimitrov!
WTA- Ash, Aaaaaaah!
Ash Barty is reaching new heights at World Number 11 on the back of a Round of 16 appearance at Indian Wells, and being from the Sunshine State, she’d feel right at home playing in Florida, a humid, hot environment full of retirees and crazy politicians.
But of course, Ash isn’t the only Australian in the women’s draw!
Daria Gavrilova’s forgettable run continued when she was knocked out in the 1st round by Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova in straight sets, 6-4 6-2.
Ajla Tomljanovic was another Aussie to knock out a Top 10 seed, reaching the 2nd Round and making it count, knocking out Ninth-seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 6-4, before she took 21st seed Annett Kontaveit right to the limit in the 3rd Round, but couldn’t get past her in either tiebreak in the match, losing the final set tiebreak 7-4.
And then Sam Stosur reached the 2nd Round, where she took on hometown favourite and 17th seed Madison Keys, and it was a wild one.
Stosur won the first set 6-4, and then raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set, making it look so simple at times.
But that good work was brought undone by an inexplicable, Ansett-esque collapse, as she was broken three times and dropped the next 6 games, as Keys won the set 6-4, and then looked home at 4-2 in the final set- Only for the World Number 78 to wind back the years, winning the final 4 games to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, after seemingly doing the opposite.
It was Sam’s first Top 20 win since October 2017 (Radwanska in Hong Kong)!
Now, here’s my Ash Barty segment.
The Barty Party began when she went through Dayana Yastremska 6-4 6-1, which set up her second career showdown with Stosur, and the first since Sam beat Ash in Miami two years ago.
But it was no contest, as Barty showed her Queensland comrade no mercy, winning 6-0 6-3 in 58 minutes to move into the final 16, for the first time since she last made the final 16.
What’s also forgotten is Barty is the defending Doubles champion in Miami (With Coco Vandeweghe), however this year she’s playing with Victoria Azarenka as a wildcard pair, and to say the least they’ve been spectacular, pulling a huge boilover by knocking out the Number One-seeded Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-7, and winning the super tiebreak 10-7.
Czech mate, ladies.
The pair backed it up today in another super tiebreak, knocking out Aleksandra Krunic and Alexandra Panova 6-3 1-6 10-7 to reach the quarter finals!