Even with his surgically repaired back still nowhere near perfect, defending champion Andy Murray needed only 73 minutes to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1 at the Sony Open on Tuesday to set up a quarterfinal with Novak Djokovic.
“My game is getting there,” said Murray, the No 6 seed, who acknowledged he was dealing with a sore back. “The last six sets I’ve played, very high-level tennis, very few errors.”
He’ll need to keep it that way against Djokovic, who eased past Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5.
The second-seeded Djokovic even gave back a point in the second set. A groundstroke from Robredo clipped the baseline and Djokovic couldn’t handle it, but the ball was erroneously called out. After a review showed the ball was in, the point was ordered to be replayed.
Djokovic shouted “It’s OK, it’s OK” as the fans applauded his sportsmanship.
“For me, it’s something that is part of the sport, fair play,” Djokovic said. “I expect everybody else to do the same. Of course, not everybody’s the same, but for me, that’s something that’s normal. Just a normal, natural reaction.”
Top-seeded Rafael Nadal downed 14th-seeded Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. Nadal has dropped a total of nine games in six sets so far in this tournament.
Singles players with a combined 66 Grand Slam victories were in action on Tuesday, including Roger Federer – a winner of 17 of them himself. And he looked very much like the Federer of old, needing only 49 minutes to beat ninth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2.
“Look, things went well out on the court today,” Federer said, clearly understating matters.
The No 5 seed had 25 winners to Gasquet’s eight, converted five of his six break chances and won 92 per cent of his first-serve points in the second set. Next up for Federer is 20th-seeded Kei Nishikori, who upset No. 4 David Ferrer 7-6 (7), 2-6, 7-6 (9).
Ferrer had beaten Nishikori in the same round at Key Biscayne a year ago, their most recent meeting before Tuesday. No 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine also pulled off an upset, topping third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.
The last American in the men’s draw was ousted when 10th-seeded John Isner lost to No 7 seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5.
On the women’s side, Maria Sharapova rallied from a break down in the first set to oust Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1 and earn a spot in the semifinals. She’s been a finalist at Key Biscayne five times, but never the champion.
“I love the energy here,” she said.
The fourth-seeded Sharapova, who needed three-setters to get through her two most recent matches at Key Biscayne, feasted on 30 unforced errors by the eighth-seeded Kvitova. Sharapova won 11 of the final 13 games and moved into a semifinal matchup with Serena Williams, the defending champion, who won 62 of 100 points in her 6-2, 6-2 romp over fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber.
Williams broke Kerber twice in each set, faced only one break point and held a more than 2-to-1 advantage in winners.
“It’s really special,” said Williams, who makes her home in South Florida and has been wearing outfits with Miami Dolphins NFL colors in this tournament. “I live so close to here. I can drive here ... it’s a great opportunity to play at home.”