Roger Federer first visited Miami in 1996 as a wide-eyed 14-year-old, on a trip with a group of Swiss junior players who were here to spend one month training all over Florida. Eighteen years later, he is a 17-time Grand Slam champion, expecting his third child, and looks perfectly at ease at the Sony Open, a tournament he has played 15 times.
The fifth-ranked Swiss and crowd favorite took just 49 minutes to dispatch Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2, making the ninth-ranked Frenchman look ordinary.
Federer was but one headliner who breezed through to the next round on a blockbuster Tuesday that also featured Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. Throw in Stanislas Wawrinka, Petra Kvitova and Martina Hingis, who was playing doubles on an outer court, and the star-studded lineup had combined for 66 Grand Slam singles titles.
Williams, the defending champion and world No. 1, rolled over Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2 in 62 minutes Tuesday evening. The two players and the Stadium Court crowd were oblivious to the security lockdown going on at the entrance of the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. Someone left a suspicious backpack, leading Miami-Dade police to cordon off the area and suspend all traffic for about an hour while a bomb squad investigated.
Traffic was backed up across the Rickenbacker Causeway. Police gave the all-clear around 9:30 p.m.
In the late match, top-ranked Nadal cruised 6-2, 6-2 over 14th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy, who committed 33 unforced errors, compared to just eight for Nadal. The Spaniard dominated from the start, taking a 5-2 lead in 23 minutes. The entire match lasted just over an hour. Nadal will face Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals.
Rain delayed the morning matches by about an hour, but once things got going, three-time champion Djokovic wasted little time earning a spot in the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Tommy Robredo.
“It was a very solid win,’’ said Djokovic, who had a bye the previous round when his opponent, Florian Mayer, withdrew with an injury. “It was humid, swirly on the court, a lot of wind. I just was telling myself to stay mentally tough out there and composed, and not get carried away by a few points. I served well, made him play the extra shot in important moments.’’
Djokovic will play defending champion Andy Murray, who eliminated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.
Fourth seed Sharapova struggled early but dominated the second set and beat Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1 to reach the semifinals against Williams. The score was tied 5-all in the first set when it started sprinkling. After a short delay, the lines were dried with towels and Sharapova won seven consecutive games.
Sharapova is a five-time finalist in Key Biscayne, including the past three years, but she has never won the title. Last year she lost in three sets to Williams, and is on a 14-match losing streak to the American.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s no secret that she’s been a big challenge of mine, an opponent that obviously I would love to beat,” Sharapova said. “There are certainly ways that I need to step up in certain situations that I haven’t been able to do in the past against her. But it’s great that I have come to that stage and have the opportunity to play her again.”
The most thrilling match of the early afternoon was on the Grandstand Court, where 20th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan upset No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain 7-6 (9-7), 2-6, 7-6 (11-9). The match took more than three hours and Nishikori saved four match points. Ferrer was the runner-up at last year’s Sony Open.
“I hope this gives me more confidence,’’ Nishikori, 24, said after the win. “This is the first time I reach the quarterfinals here. I am tired, of course. [Ferrer] wasn’t 100 percent the last couple of points.’’
Federer faces Nishikori next.
“He obviously had a very difficult match with Ferrer, but a great one which everybody watched in the locker room and the player restaurant,’’ Federer said. “It was one of those thrilling ends to a match, into the tiebreaker with match points saved. It had the whole drama.
“Clearly, I think it’s an advantage at this point that I had a quick match and he had a really brutal match.’’
Wawrinka lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to upstart Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine. Dolgopolov, 25, is coming off an eye-popping performance at Indian Wells, Calif., where he beat Nadal, No. 14 Fabio Fognini and No. 11 Raonic.