Biggest upsets! When Federer, Nadal and Djokovic lost at the Miami Open
The Miami Open is one of tennis’s biggest tournaments and it has been largely dominated by three of the game’s greatest players.
Since being founded in 1985, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Pete Sampras have all lifted the trophy.
Only two finals since 2005 have not featured one of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray. The ‘big three’ of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have all appeared in at least five title matches at the event.
With the 2021 edition underway, Tennishead looks at the biggest upsets against Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at the Miami Open:
Guillermo Canas d. Roger Federer 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) – 2007 4R
Having won the event in 2005 and 2006, Federer – now a four-time winner – was the two-time defending champion at the 2007 Miami Open. The world No. 1 and top seed had beaten Sam Querrey and Nicolas Almagro to advance to the fourth round – where he faced qualifier Guillermo Canas.
The Argentine had stunned Federer at the previous tournament – the Indian Wells Masters – ending his 41-match winning streak. Few expected the then 29-year-old world No. 55 to make it back-to-back wins against the Swiss.
The first set went to a tiebreak after Canas was broken when serving for the set at 5-4. The Argentine raced through the tiebreak – winning it 7-2 to take the opening set. Federer responded strongly by breaking twice to take the second set 6-2.
The top seed then surged to a 2-0 lead in the deciding set, but Canas saved two break points to prevent himself from going 3-0 and a double break down. The Argentine broke back for 3-3, and the remainder of the set went with serve to take the match to a decisive tiebreak.
Federer crucially netted a forehand drive volley when serving at 4-5, before Canas produced an ace to clinch the tiebreak 7-5 and complete a second consecutive upset win against the Swiss. The qualifier went on to reach the final – where he lost to 10th seed Djokovic in three straight sets.
Olivier Rochus d. Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4 – 2010 2R
Second seed Djokovic – now a six-time Miami Open champion – was among the favourites for the 2010 title, having reached the final the previous year and won the title in 2007. The Serbian had lost two of his three previous meetings with Olivier Rochus – but those defeats came in 2005.
The 5-ft-5 Belgian started the second round encounter superbly and broke twice to race to a 4-0 lead, before taking the opening set 6-2. The pair exchanged breaks in the fifth and sixth games of the second set – which went to a tiebreak. Djokovic edged the tiebreak 9-7 to take the contest into a deciding set.
World No. 59 Rochus broke in the second game of the third set and served for the match at 5-3, but Djokovic broke back. Serving to stay in the match, the 22-year-old Serbian made unforced errors to lose serve again – as Rochus sealed the deciding set 6-4 for a stunning win. Djokovic’s serve was an issue during this period of his career, and he was particularly undone by double faults in this match – hitting 11 as he was broken six times.
The unseeded Belgian was defeated in straight sets by 27th seed Thomaz Bellucci in the third round. Rochus and Djokovic met again in 2010 in the first round of Wimbledon – with the Serbian coming back to win from 2-1 down in sets.
Fernando Verdasco d. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 – 2015 3R
While 2015 would prove to be one of the most difficult seasons of Nadal’s career, he was seeded second at the 2015 Miami Open. Now a five-time runner-up at the event – the Spaniard had made the semi-finals or better in his four previous Miami appearances heading into this edition, including reaching the final in 2011 and 2014.
Nadal held a 13-1 head-to-head advantage against his compatriot Fernando Verdasco – a former world No. 7 and the 29th seed at this tournament – heading into the third round match. The then 31-year-old Verdasco broke for 5-3 in the first set after a Nadal double fault, but he handed the break straight back with a forehand error.
The second seed then mishit a forehand to lose serve again as Verdasco took an edgy opening set 6-4. The 28-year-old came back strongly in the second set by breaking Verdasco for 3-2 and 5-2, before closing it out with a fairly comfortable 6-2 scoreline.
Momentum swung again in the third set when the 29th seed broke to go up 3-1 with a forehand winner. Verdasco clinched the third set and the upset serving at 5-3, 40-30, when Nadal netted a backhand return. The Spaniard was beaten in straight sets in the fourth round by Juan Monaco.
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