The Worlds Favourite Playground

Thursday, Feb 27th

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World No. 5 David Ferrer continued his good run at the Miami Masters on Thursday as he fought back after losing the first set to beat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to progress to the semi-finals. In the semis, he will face the first German to reach this far at Key Biscayne, the 20th seeded Tommy Haas. Haas followed on from his 4th round upset of world no.1 Novak Djokovic to send 11th seed Giles Simon packing in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

In the first of the day's quarter-finals, 4th seed David Ferrer took on the unseeded Jurgen Melzer. The two had met 9 times previously with the Spaniard emerging victorious on 7 of those occasions.  Despite that lopsided record, he came up against an in-form Melzer who was in the midst of a 9 match winning streak and the Austrian began strongly to take the first set 6-4.

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It was an especially windy day at Key Biscayne, Florida on Sunday with players finding it difficult to get a rhythm going. Even so, the top players in the men’s draw were able to carve out easy victories to move into the round of 16 at the Sony Open. Two-time defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic led the way as he saw off India’s Somdev Devvarman 6-2, 6-4 in 68 minutes. Third seed David Ferrer and 7th seed Janko Tipsarevic, both had poor runs at Indian Wells, but were able to find form and progress into the next round with the Serb having the tougher day at the office as he rallied for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-0 victory against Kevin Anderson. Giles Simon, Kei Nishikori and Tommy Haas were the other seeds to join them in the 4th round.

Djokovic, who was facing Devvarman for the first time, was hardly troubled in his match and lost only three points on his first serve, giving him his 14th straight win at the tournament.

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It was a day of upsets in the second round of the men’s draw with as many as 7 seeds crashing out of the 2013 BNP Paribas Masters that included two top 10 players. However, the big guns including 2nd seed Roger Federer, 5th seed Rafael Nadal and 6th seed Tomas Berdych were largely untroubled and progressed to the third round with routine straight set victories.

The highest seeded casualty of the day was 4th seed David Ferrer who was ousted by big serving South African Kevin Anderson 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and fifty-five minutes.

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On Thursday, in the first of the men’s semi-finals, defending champion Novak Djokovic proved why he is the no.1 player in the world as he came to the Rod Laver Arena firing on all cylinders and displayed a sublime quality of tennis to annihilate 4th seed David Ferrer in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

Ferrer is one of the toughest competitor’s on tour and over the past couple of years has improved his game on the hard courts to progress from a clay court specialist to a tennis player with an all round game. With compatriot Rafael Nadal withdrawing from the tournament the responsibility of filling the gap fell squarely on the fourth seed’s shoulders and a lot was expected from him. Unfortunately, Ferrer did not live up to those expectations and was blitzed off Rod Laver Arena by the top seeded Serb in 89 minutes in what could quite possibly be one of the worst defeats of the Spaniard’s career.

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Defending champion Novak Djokovic showed no signs of fatigue from his marathon 5 setter against Stanislas Wawrinka as he dispatched 5th seed Tomas Berdych in four sets 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. It took the Serb exactly half the time of his 4th round match - 2 hours and 31 minutes, to complete his 19th consecutive victory in Melbourne.

The World No.1 began the match confidently and broke the Czech in the third game with an exceptional backhand winner to go 2-1 up.  The Serb won the next four games that included two breaks of serve to wrap the first set in 28 minutes 6-1.

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Russian superstar Maria Sharapova was back to her destructive best today at the Australian Open, powering her way into the quarterfinals with an emphatic breadstick and bagel rout of Belgian challenger Kirsten Flipkens. The 4-time Grand Slam winner will next face compatriot Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the last four with the 19th seeded left-hander getting the better of German rising star Angelique Kerber in two tight sets 7-5, 6-4.

Sharapova had a high profile third round contest with Venus Williams, and though she came through the match comfortably enough, maintaining her focus against a "lesser" opponent in Flipkens could have posed a challenge for the Russian diva.

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The early rounds of a tournament are not usually followed by casual tennis fans. They consider the first week to be a sort of ‘calm before the storm’ week and in some sense that analysis is true. No top seeds take on one other and there are more or less expected outcomes with the favourites succeeding with ease round after round. The fans instead wait in anticipation for week 2 where the top seeds will go head to head and there will be much more interesting action to watch and experience.

While this Australian Open has not witnessed too many upsets at the top, the quality of tennis has been too outstanding to not provide excitement and enjoyment for even the most casual of tennis fans. Each day has been jam packed with action and the fans have been able to witness numerous five set matches and come from behind victories that have had the fans chewing their hands right down to the last nail. While day 5 was somewhat of a downer as compared to the four days of tennis that preceded it, it was nonetheless a day filled with some great matches and mouthwatering displays of tennis.

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