Pliskova, Wozniacki book semifinal tie

Czech second-seed Karolina Pliskova will face Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals of the Miami Open after the pair triumphed on Tuesday at Key Biscayne.

A confident Pliskova ended the hopes of Croat veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with a 6-3, 6-4 win while Wozniacki made sure there would be no all-Czech semi by dispatching Lucie Safarova 6-4. 6-3.

Lucic-Baroni has been enjoying a late career upturn in fortunes at the age of 35 and in January reached the semifinals of the Australian Open – 18 years after her previous appearance in the last four of a Slam, in 1999 at Wimbledon.

In Miami she put out fifth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the previous round but the confident and in-form Pliskova proved to be a test too far.The win was sweet revenge for Pliskova who had lost to the Croat in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January.

“I think I played much better here than in Australia. Also the conditions are different. I think she was also playing better tennis there because it was faster and the conditions a little bit warmer, balls were different,” Pliskova said.

“I think she had some chances in the second set and then the third set you never know what can happen, but I definitely felt more confident with this match today,” she added.

“I had a game plan, little bit different the one that I had in Australia, and it worked. I was just trying to play a little bit more aggressive than I was playing there and going for my shots,” Pliskova said.

The Czech has won twice this season, in Brisbane and Doha, and now has the best win-loss record of the year (23-3).

The 25-year-old’s victory in the Doha final came against Thursday’s opponent Wozniacki.

“She beat last time and she has been playing well and is in good shape but I am looking forward to getting a another try out there and see if I can beat her this time,” Wozniacki said.

The Dane is in upbeat mood and says she has been in a groove since her run to the semi-finals at the US Open.

“I am playing well and I think I have been for quite a while, I think the US Open kind of started off this run and I am just going with it,” she said.

“I think the main thing is that I have been healthy for about six months now, I hope I can keep that going,” she said.

Wednesday’s quarterfinals see third-seed Simona Halep of Romania take on Britain’s Johanna Konta while world No 1 Angelique Kerber faces local favorite and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.

Federer, Nadal advance; Wawrinka out

Top seed Stan Wawrinka crashed out of the Miami Open on Tuesday, falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to German young gun Alexander Zverev, who booked his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori advanced to the quarterfinals on cue.

But Wawrinka, beaten by fellow Swiss Federer in the final of Indian Wells earlier this month, looked weary as he struggled through the third set of a match played on his 32nd birthday.

“I had one bad game to start the second set and then it was tough for me,” Wawrinka, the reigning US Open champion, said. “I don’t know. I completely went down physically and mentally, and also my tennis was completely out. I had no more gas.”

“For sure it’s a disappointing match. I think the level was quite up and down. We were both fighting a little bit in the first set to find good level. It was really humid, not easy to play some great tennis,” he added.

No Nadal for Spain in Davis Cup QF

Rafael Nadal will not feature in Spain’s team for the April 7-9 Davis Cup quarterfinal against Serbia, Spanish captain Conchita Martinez confirmed on Tuesday.

Spain will instead be represented by Pablo Carreno Busta (19th in the world rankings), Albert Ramos (24th), Marcel Granollers (41th) and doubles specialist Marc Lopez.

World number seven Nadal, who played in the first-round victory over Croatia, had already hinted that he would not take part in the match-up against Serbia, which coincides with a required rest period unless the tie were to be played on clay — it will take place on hardcourt.

Spain, five-time Davis Cup champions, are eyeing a place in the semifinals for the first time since 2012.

Andy Murray a doubt for Davis Cup

World No 1 Andy Murray is likely to miss Great Britain’s Davis Cup quarterfinal trip to France due to an elbow injury, his brother Jamie Murray has said.

Three-times grand slam winner Murray, who pulled out of the ongoing Miami Masters after sustaining an elbow problem in training, is expected to be left out of the Great Britain squad, which will be announced on Tuesday.

“It’s some sort of tear in his elbow, so he needs to rest. He said he can do everything except serve and he told me that rest was all he had to do,” Jamie told British media.

“I am not planning that he is going to be there (in France) but, if he is, then obviously that is great for the team and we’ll see what happens.

“But the most important thing for him is just to get healthy … He just needs to get a bit settled and get a good crack at it over the next three months because there are a lot of big tournaments to play.”

Murray is also not expected to make the Monte Carlo Masters beginning on April 17.

The Big four sign up for Madrid

World No 1 Andy Murray and Australian Open champion Roger Federer will be among a stellar field for May’s Madrid Masters, the ATP said on Monday.

The current top 43 players in the world will be in the draw, including former world No 1s Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, winners of a combined 26 Grand Slam titles.

The tournament will run from May 7-14 on clay. Djokovic beat Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in last year’s final.

Kerber books clash with Venus

World number one Angelique Kerber despatched Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki 6-2, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal clash with Venus Williams on Monday at the Miami Open.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams fought past Russian seventh-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) to reach the last eight.

Fourth-seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia crashed out to the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova and ailing French Open champion Garbine Muguruza also bowed out in the fourth round.

Kerber took charge early, breaking twice to establish a 4-1 lead and she was in firm control from then on.

The German said that while her opponent may only have been ranked 87th she had studied Ozaki’s game closely before the contest.

“She came through the qualies, she beat good players, so I was ready for it,” Kerber said.

“I talked with my team and I knew that she’s moving good and bringing a lot of balls back. I was trying to play my game and be aggressive.”

Williams cruised through the first set before Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion and runner-up at Indian Wells last week, fought back to take the second set to a tie-break.

It was a fierce battle for the decisive points, Kuznetsova going 4-1 up, but after two lengthy rallies, both of which were won by the 36-year-old Williams, the oldest player in the tournament emerged victorious.

The victory, sealed with a delicate slice at the net, was Williams’ first against a top 10 opponent since 2015.

“It was tough out there,” Williams said. “She is like a wall. To come back in the tie-break was great, I hope I can keep that tennis up.”

Safarova, ranked 36th in the world, moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 victory over Cibulkova, which was her first triumph against a top 10 opponent since 2015.

Illness has disrupted Safarova’s campaigns over the past two years but the seven-time WTA title winner, looks to be on the right track. “I feel healthy now — thank God and I’ll keep trying to push my limits more and more,” she said.

The 30-year-old Czech will face Dane Caroline Wozniacki who advanced when Spain’s Muguruza retired feeling ill after being edged in a first set tie-break.

In an all-Czech clash, number two seed Karolina Pliskova enjoyed a 6-1, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova.

Pliskova will come up against Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni whose impressive late career revival continued with the 35-year-old beating American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4.

– Halep hangs on -Lucic-Baroni said she was benefitting from a more thoughtful approach to preparation.

“I’ve always worked hard, but we’re working much smarter now,” she said.

”We’re not murdering me six hours a day anymore, but we’re doing good things.”

While she has never appeared in the Miami quarters before, this will be her third quarter-final appearance in her last four WTA events and she goes into the match knowing she beat Piliskova in the last eight in the Australian Open.

Romanian third seed Simona Halep showed her trademark fighting spirit in an enthralling win against Australia’s Samantha Stosur, coming back from a set and 5-2 down in the second, saving a match point before going on to win the third set.

“I’ve been always like this,” Halep said. “I never give up, I don’t like to give up matches. I am here to play, away from home, I am going to give my all, always.”

Federer blows past Delpo in Miami

In-form Roger Federer powered his way into the fourth round of the Miami Open with a 6-3 6-4 win over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro on Monday.

Del Potro always enjoys plenty of crowd support in Miami, which has a large Argentine community, and it was the same story again with football-style chants of support ringing out for the 28-year-old on a packed Crandon Park center court.

It was the pair’s first meeting since 2013 and having won 15 of the previous 21 encounters, Federer was favorite – but the crowd factor gave the third round match an added edge.

“Shortly before I walked out to the court you could sense the atmosphere. That’s when I told myself, Just be prepared for something different, you know. It was different,” Federer said.

He was forced to save four break points in the first set but he got ahead with a thundering forehand to take a 5-3 lead and served out for the set.

The Argentine had a chance to turn things around when he had a break point when down 4-3 in the second set but Federer, moving well and looking full of confidence, held firm and wrapped up the match in one hour and 22 minutes.

“I felt like I was in control and I was able to generate more chances than he did,” Federer said.

“I felt like he got his chances a little bit out of nowhere, maybe because I dropped my level ever so slightly and gave him few easy points, and that’s how he sort of got more chances on my serve.

“I feel like I earned it more. I was more the aggressor. It was more on my racquet, and I like it that way,” added the Swiss, who won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.

Federer, whose successful return from a six-month injury layoff has also included a win at Indian Wells this month, will face 14th seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the next round.

Federer’s compatriot and top-seed Stan Wawrinka defeated Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-3, 6-4.

Wawrinka saved all six break points he faced and converted two of his four break opportunities and will now face Alexander Zverev of Germany in the fourth round on Tuesday.

Zverev pulled off a remarkable win over American John Isner, saving three match points as he came back from a set down to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5).

Czech Tomas Berdych, Miami finalist in 2010, defeated Gilles Muller 6-3, 6-4 while Australia’s Nick Kyrgios held off a strong effort from big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic on the way to a 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-2) win.

Kyrgios will play Belgian David Goffin, who narrowly edged a three-set thriller against Argentine Diego Schwartzmann.