David Ferrer came so close to winning the Sony Open last year that he is trying to forget the defining moment.
The Spaniard had match point against Andy Murray, who ripped a forehand that Ferrer believed was long. Ferrer, who returned the shot, nonetheless stopped play and raised his hand to initiate a challenge.
Cameras showed that the ball just nicked the baseline, the sellout crowd went wild, and Murray eventually forced a tiebreaker and won the championship, becoming the first male player in the tournament’s history to save a match point and win the title.
On Friday, World No. 4 Ferrer returned to Key Biscayne and defeated 60th-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-4, 6-0.
Ferrer, 31, struggled a bit early in the match, but came back strong.
“It was tough,” he said. “I hit a little bit mistakes with my return. The second set I played better, no?”
Ferrer said he never thought about being put on the Grandstand, as opposed to Stadium Court.
“I don’t mind,” he said. “Grandstand is a good court. I understand it’s impossible to play every day in the stadium.”
He came to Key Biscayne after taking a two-week break because of a left-groin injury. This year he is 17-5, with one title on clay last month in Buenos Aires.
“It’s not easy first round to play my game after the break,” he said. “But I like Miami. It’s a very nice city. I have good friends here, the weather is good, and there are a lot of Spanish people here.”
As for last year’s final, he said he has put it behind him.
“I don’t want to think about that match,” Ferrer said. “It was tough for me. But anyway, I am not going to apologize for my call. We’re in 2014 and now I want to think with my next match.”
That match will be Sunday against No. 31 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, who defeated Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-4.
HINGIS IN DOUBLES
Martina Hingis is no stranger to the Sony Open.
She won the Sony in 1997, defeating Monica Seles 6-2, 6-1.
She also is a two-time doubles champion at the Sony — in 1998 and ’99 with partner Jana Novotna.
On Friday, Hingis, 33, a nine-time doubles Grand Slam winner from Switzerland, made her Sony doubles comeback by pairing with partner Sabine Lisicki, 24, of Germany. They defeated doubles No. 11 player Andrea Hlavackova and her 15th-ranked partner Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-4, both of the Czech Republic.
Hingis, who has 43 career singles titles, returned to doubles play last summer after an almost six-year retirement.
“It’s working really well. I enjoy it a lot,” Lisicki told the WTA website this month. “She was my idol when I was growing up. I always wanted to play with her.”
KEYS A DRAW
Court 7 was packed with spectators Friday, as Boca Raton resident and 38th-ranked Madison Keys, 19, defeated No. 33 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-2.
“It’s so incredible,” Keys said of how her match was so overflowing with fans that many people couldn’t get onto the court to watch. “This is definitely my home tournament, so being able to do well and have the crowd behind me is always just such an amazing feeling down here.”