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“Miami Vice” • Tennis Tourney Loses The Biggest Name Of All As Federer Falls To Aussie Kokkinakis

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts against Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia during a second round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 24 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER



By Ricky Dimon


Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka were never part of the Miami Open draw. The same goes for Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Novak Djokovic was in it–briefly–but lost his opening match to Benoit Paire on Friday.


Now the grandaddy of them all is out.


World No. 1 and defending Miami champion Roger Federer lost in the second round on Saturday, victimized by a shocking 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) upset engineered by 175th-ranked qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis. Federer’s setback after two hours and 21 minutes of play leaves this Masters 1000 title completely up for grabs and paves the way for Rafael Nadal to regain the top ranking spot in what will likely be game of No. 1 musical chairs between Nadal and Federer throughout the entire 2018 campaign.


Federer coasted through the opening frame of play and earned a break point at 30-40 in the first game of the second that would have given him complete control, but he could not convert. Kokkinakis promptly seized a break of his own for 3-1, battled through a deuce game on serve at 4-2, and served the set out at love in the ninth game.


Kokkinakis saved two break points in the decider while Federer faced none en route to a tiebreaker, during which the underdog Australian never trailed. It ended when Federer got a look at a second serve at 4-6 only to respond with a backhand slice in the net.


“I feel like every time I had chances, something bad happened for me–wrong decision making by me, good decision making by him,” Federer lamented. “Who knows what happened? It just felt like I could be paying the price for opportunities missed. I feel like it already started beginning of the second set when I had break points (in the) first game, and he almost wanted to give me that game and I couldn’t take it. After that I played a bad; from that moment on, I played maybe a bad 10 minutes–which cost me the second set; maybe the match.


“Look, it’s disappointing. (I) don’t know why I could never get to any level that I was happy with today. Sometimes you have these matches. Sometimes you find a way through. I just couldn’t get it done today.”


“I didn’t think I served very well the whole match,” said Kokkinakis, who put in a mere 52 percent of his first deliveries and double-faulted seven times. “I came up with some big ones I guess when I needed to. The serve is usually one thing I pride my game on. It’s a big part of my game. Honestly, to beat someone like that without serving great is a good testament to my game, I think. Winning a lot of baseline rallies and dictating with my forehand, I think when I’m playing like that off the ground I can be very dangerous.


“I think you asked me what’s my goal for the match, it wasn’t to get a few games or to be competitive. You know, I gave myself a legit shot.”


Thanks to Kokkinakis, Nadal will return to the No. 1 ranking after the Miami Masters–a tournament he skipped along with Indian Wells as a result of a hip injury sustained at the Australian Open.


The script could be flipped, however, during the clay-court swing. Federer announced following Saturday’s loss that he will not play on clay, but the 36-year-old has a real chance of overtaking Nadal without picking up a racket because Nadal has so many points to defend–including titles in Barcelona, Monte-Carlo, Madrid, and at the French Open.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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