Rafael Nadal overcame a slight ankle sprain, gusty winds and Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro to win his opening match 6-4, 6-2 at the Miami Open on a Friday that started off pleasant but turned stormy at nightfall.
He escaped the Tennis Center at Crandon Park just in time, as 50-mph wind gusts and heavy rain rolled in and wreaked havoc with the evening matches.
Top-ranked Serena Williams was scheduled to begin defense of her title in the showcase Friday night match, but the rain never let up, so her match and 11 others were postponed until Saturday. She will be third on Stadium Court midafternoon Saturday.
A packed Stadium Court was expected for Williams’ opener against Monica Niculescu on Friday night. Instead, thousands of disappointed damp fans huddled for hours in the stadium corridors and food tents awaiting word on the weather.
Finally, at 9:30 p.m., tournament officials announced that no matches would be played. Guests with individual Session 8 tickets from Friday night may exchange them at the front gate box office for: Session 9 March 28 Day Session Grounds Passes, Session 12 March 29 Evening Session tickets or March 30 Evening Session tickets.
Nadal, the No. 2 seed, was relieved to get through his first match, but it wasn’t as easy as the score might look because of the weather conditions, he said.
“It is important to finish the match before the storm arrived, but I think we played with not easy conditions,” Nadal said. “But that can happen here in Miami. It’s nothing new. The wind was really high, very difficult to find a positive feeling on the court.”
Nadal is particularly motivated to win here because he has played here 11 times, reached four finals but never won the title. It is the tournament in which he has played the most times and never won.
He tweaked his ankle at practice Monday but said it did not affect his performance Friday.
“The day after I had pain, but after two days, I improved 50 percent, and it stayed the same,” he said. “It’s fine, not limiting my movements.”
Joining Nadal in the third round will be third seed Andy Murray, who also battled heat and wind to defeat Donald Young 6-4, 6-2. It was the fifth time in six meetings that Murray beat Young. The Scot owns a condo in the Brickell Avenue area, trains here in the winter and typically does well in Key Biscayne. He won the titles in 2009 and 2013.
“The heat was OK, and the wind obviously cooled you down a little bit at the end changes,” Murray said. “Sometimes it can be ridiculously hot, and that makes managing the points and your emotions [difficult]. It was just very tough weather to play good tennis in. So I just tried to play smart, and it worked.”
In other men’s matches, seventh seed Stan Wawrinka rallied past Carlos Berlocq 6-7 (9-11), 7-5, 6-2. Czech eighth seed Tomas Berdych beat Chung Hyeon of Korea 6-3, 6-4.
American Sam Querrey lost to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in a battle of big men. Querrey is 6-6 and Anderson is 6-8. Austria’s Dominic Thiem upset 10th seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3.
On the women’s side, 15-year-old phenom Catherine (Cici) Bellis beat rising Kazakhstan star Zarina Diyas 6-2, 6-1 and could face Williams in the next round. The win was especially gratifying for Bellis because she lost to Diyas at the U.S. Open. Last fall Bellis became the youngest player to win a match at the U.S. Open since 1996 when she upset No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova.
“This one I think I played a lot smarter,” Bellis said. “At the U.S. Open I was really like caught up in all the kind of hype that was going on. But this one I was just really focused and played my game. I think I did what I needed to do to win really well.”
Bellis, who is still an amateur but plays in limited pro events, said she would relish the chance to play Williams, a 19-time Grand Slam champion and seven-time winner in this tournament.
“It’s going to be really fun,” said Bellis, who got into the draw as a wild card. “I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to play my game and see what happens.’’
In other women’s matches, Indian Wells (California) winner Simona Halep beat Nicole Vaidisova 6-4, 2-6, 6-1. Fifth seed Ana Ivanovic eliminated Irina Falconi 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3. Two-time Miami winner Victoria Azarenka needed seven match points, but beat Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1.
Sloane Stephens won an all-American match on Stadium Court, converting five of six break-point chances to beat No. 17 Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2.
“I just kind of let the emotions get to me,” the 20-year-old Keys said. “It’s like you’re having a really terrible day, but my terrible day is in front of hundreds of people and then broadcast on TV. That’s not always fun.”
Tomas Berdych (8), Czech Republic, d. Chung Hyeon, South Korea, 6-3, 6-4; Kevin Anderson (15), South Africa, d. Sam Querrey, U.S., 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4; Bernard Tomic (25), Australia, d. Austin Krajicek, United States, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5; Andy Murray (3), Britain, d. Donald Young, United States, 6-4, 6-2; Santiago Giraldo (27), Colombia, d. Robin Haase, Netherlands, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0; Leonardo Mayer (24), Argentina, d. Jarkko Nieminen, Finland, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5); Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (23), Spain, d. Jan-Lennard Struff, Germany, 6-4, 6-4; Dominic Thiem, Austria, d. Feliciano Lopez (10), Spain, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3; Stan Wawrinka (7), Switzerland, d. Carlos Berlocq, Argentina, 6-7 (9-11), 7-5, 6-2; Rafael Nadal (2), Spain, d. Nicolas Almagro (96), Spain, 6-4, 6-2; Fernando Verdasco (29), Spain, leads James Duckworth, Australia, 1-0, Suspended; Adrian Mannarino (28), France, vs. A. Ramos-Vinolas, Spain, 6-4, 3-6, 1-1, Suspended.
Simona Halep (3), Romania, d. Nicole Vaidisova, Czech Republic, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1; Svetlana Kuznetsova (24), Russia, d. Alison Riske, United States, 6-2, 6-2; Johanna Larsson, Sweden, d. Lucie Safarova (10), Czech Republic, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2; CiCi Bellis, United States, d. Zarina Diyas (29), Kazakhstan, 6-2, 6-1; Camila Giorgi (30), Italy, d. Alison Van Uytvanck, Belgium, 6-3, 6-2; Victoria Azarenka, Belarus, d. Jelena Jankovic (20), Serbia, 6-1, 6-1; Garbine Muguruza (21), Spain, d. Sesil Karatantcheva, Bulgaria, 6-1, 6-3; Sloane Stephens, United States, d. Madison Keys (17), United States, 6-4, 6-2; Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, d. Irina Falconi, United States, 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3; Sabine Lisicki (27), Germany, d. Julia Goerges, Germany, 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4; Flavia Pennetta (15), Italy, d. Tsvetana Pironkova, Bulgaria, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 6-3; Sara Errani (11), Italy, leads Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia, 6-1, 4-1, Suspended; Angelique Kerber (13), Germany, leads Heather Watson, Britain, 7-5, 0-0, Suspended; Belinda Bencic, Switzerland, d. Casey Dellacqua (32), Australia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2; Eugenie Bouchard (6), Canada, is tied with Tatjana Maria, Germany, 0-0, Suspended.
11 a.m.: Kaia Kanepi (EST) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Tim Smyczek (USA) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Monica Niculescu (ROU)
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
Not Before 8 p.m.: Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Martin Klizan (SVK)
Not Before 9:30 p.m.: Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
10:50 a.m.: Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
Not Before 1 p.m.: Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. John Isner (USA)
Not Before 4:30 p.m.: Venus Williams (USA) vs. Samantha Stosur (AUS)
Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) vs. Milos Raonic (CAN)
Pablo Cuevas (URU) vs. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
11 a.m.: Gilles Simon (FRA) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs. Jack Sock (USA)
Federico Delbonis (ARG) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP)
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) vs. Paula Badosa Gibert (ESP)
Bob Bryan (USA)/Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Benjamin Becker (GER)/Scott Lipsky (USA)
Noon: Tatjana Maria (GER) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Filip Krajinovic (SRB)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs. Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
David Goffin (BEL) vs. Borna Coric (CRO)
Simone Bolelli (ITA)/Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs. Raven Klaasen (RSA)/Leander Paes (IND)
11 a.m.: Lukas Rosol (CZE) vs. Alexander Zverev (GER)
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs. James Duckworth (AUS)
Alejandro Falla (COL) vs. Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
Steve Darcis (BEL) vs. Gilles Muller (LUX)
11 a.m.: Alize Cornet (FRA) vs. Carla SuÃ¡rez Navarro (ESP)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) vs. Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs. Juan Monaco (ARG)
Kurumi Nara (JPN) vs. Daria Gavrilova (RUS)
Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL)/Robert Farah (COL) vs. Feliciano Lopez (ESP)/Max Mirnyi (BLR)
Lisa Raymond (USA)/Samantha Stosur (AUS) vs. Monica Niculescu (ROU)/Alexandra Panova (RUS)
11 a.m.: Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Not Before Noon: Sara Errani (ITA) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Simone Bolelli (ITA) vs. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Nicolas Mahut (FRA)/Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs. Ryan Harrison (USA)/Rajeev Ram (USA)
11 a.m.: Hao-Ching Chan (TPE)/Jelena Jankovic (SRB) vs. Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP)/SÃlvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
Not Before Noon: Heather Watson (GBR) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER)
Jean-Julien Rojer (NED)/Horia Tecau (ROU) vs. Dominic Inglot (GBR)/Florin Mergea (ROU)
Alize Cornet (FRA)/Elina Svitolina (UKR) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Caroline Garcia (FRA)/Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) vs. Monica Puig (PUR)/Heather Watson (GBR)
1 p.m.: Vera Dushevina (RUS)/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) vs. Julia Goerges (GER)/Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)