AP Sports Writer
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) – For Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, it was a happy anniversary.
For Stan Wawrinka, it was not a happy birthday.
Federer and Nadal – playing back-to-back on stadium court on the 13th anniversary of their very first match – both advanced Tuesday to the quarterfinals of the Miami Open, surviving strong tests in both cases.
Wawrinka wasn’t as fortunate, the No. 1 seed getting bounced on his 32nd birthday by teenager Alexander Zverev.
“Every match is going to be tough from now on,” said second-seeded Kei Nishikori, who also survived a three-setter to reach the quarters.
That seems to already be holding true.
The fourth-seeded Federer outlasted No. 14 Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), the fifth-seeded Nadal got past Nicolas Marut 6-4, 7-6 (4), and Nishikori – a finalist at Key Biscayne a year ago – rallied from a break down in the final set to beat Federico Delbonis 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“A tough match overall,” Federer said.
Zverev, who turns 20 next month, downed Wawrinka 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, and showed no ill effects by playing just 24 hours after winning a three-setter over John Isner that went entirely to tiebreakers.
Zverev won 26 of the 36 points played in the final set.
“A disappointing match,” said Wawrinka, who smiled when a surprise birthday cake – replete with ‘Stan The Man’ lettering – was brought into his post-match news conference. “We were both fighting.”
Nadal won the only break point played in his match against Marut, and it was enough. He was an up-and-coming 17-year-old when he faced Federer at what was then called the NASDAQ-100 Open in 2004, and surprised many with a straight-set win that day.
More than a decade later, here they are again.
“It’s a good start of the year, I think, for both of us,” Nadal said. “Obviously, it’s a little bit better for him, but at the same time I’m happy with the way that I am playing, happy with the way that I started the year after a tough second part of the year last year with injuries.
“So I think it’s a positive for both of us that we can still (be) around here and be very competitive almost every week that we are playing.”
Federer had a battle with Bautista Agut, and seemed to enjoy himself. He needed – and got – a break with Bautista Agut serving for the first set, and with Federer serving at 4-5 in the second they played about a half-dozen back-and-forth shots at the net in a tete-a-tete that ended with Federer winning the point.
He cracked a slight smile as the crowd roared. Federer gets Wednesday off, and will meet 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych on Thursday afternoon in the quarters.
Nishikori will next face unseeded Fabio Fognini of Italy, who beat Donald Young 6-0, 6-4. Young’s loss meant only one American man would reach the quarters – that being No. 13 Jack Sock, who beat Jared Donaldson 6-2, 6-1.
Karolina Pliskova, who has never found Miami exactly to her liking, got into the women’s semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 26th-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. It’s the first time Pliskova has made the semifinals at Key Biscayne.
Pliskova improved to 23-3 this year, the best record on the women’s tour.
“I’m really enjoying my tennis this year … winning almost every match so far,” said Pliskova, who took advantage of 10 double faults by Lucic-Baroni.
Next up for Pliskova – who avenged a loss to Lucic-Baroni in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open – is Caroline Wozniacki or Lucie Safarova, who were scheduled to play Tuesday night.
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