In a night that saw the humidity at Hard Rock Stadium at 72% and the temperature just below 80 degrees, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, drenched in sweat, took the win 6-3, 4-6, and 6-1 over Kei Nishikori at the Miami Open.
Tsitsipas, ranked fifth in the ATP, looked strong in the first set, breaking Nishikori’s first serve and holding all of his own. Not once did he allow the 39th ranked player from Japan to achieve 40 points, and the set passed quickly in just over 30 minutes. It was clear the young Greek was looking to prove something after his runner-up finish in Acapulco last week.
However, despite notching 10 aces in the second, Tsitsipas couldn’t hold back Nishikori’s renewed attack. The veteran player, winner of 12 singles titles, proved he could still hang with the best of the young crowd as he held off Tsitsipas’ powerful backhand, even breaking one of the younger player’s serves in the second game and winning off his only ace of the match in the eighth. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, looked in danger of overheating compared to the cool and collected Nishikori, who spent much of his life training in the Florida sun and seemed to have a better strategy for the heat and humidity.
But the first man to beat Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic before his 21st birthday was not to be denied in the third, changing the momentum early to favor himself and roaring out to a 3-0 lead despite Nishikori’s best efforts. The Japanese native fended off five break points in the first two sets but only took the advantage once and allowed the sweat-soaked Greek to break his serve twice. After going down 5-1, his racket met the floor.
In the three years since the two have played, Tsitsipas has matured greatly. Nishikori easily defeated the young Greek in straight sets then, despite a wrist injury the year before that set him back for awhile, but had a much more difficult (and longer) time of things this year.
Tsitsipas will move on to the fourth round tomorrow at seven p.m. where he will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.