How The Final Was Won: Djokovic Masters Miami
Novak Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 for the 2016 Miami Open presented by Itau title on Sunday.
Djokovic now leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head 7-2, having previously captured their most recent encounter in straight sets at the Australian Open in January. The World No. 1 completed a historic three-peat at the Crandon Park Tennis Center, claiming sole possession of the all-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title lead with his 28th crown. It was his sixth in total in Miami.
Nishikori, meanwhile, was seeking to claim his first Masters 1000 title in his second final, having fallen to Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Madrid title match.
Here is how the final unfolded...
SET ONE - Djokovic 6-3
It was imperative for Nishikori to make an immediate dent from the start and that's exactly what the sixth seed did. The Japanese opened the court with great precision from the baseline, snatching a quick break on what was an overcast afternoon in South Florida.
But despite taking the initial advantage, Nishikori was unable to consolidate. Djokovic would break right back, reeling off eight of the next nine points. Just like that, the Japanese's initial surge of momentum vanished and Djokovic continued to mount his assault. Another break in the sixth game gave him a 4-2 lead.
A moment of drama came a game later, with Djokovic facing a pair of break points while serving against the wind. A mid-rally Nishikori backhand at 15/40 was called in, but was later shown to have sailed wide of the tramline. He would get the break with Djokovic opting to not challenge.
The decision would have little impact, however, as the top-seeded Serb broke back once again in the next game and closed out the set to love after 34 minutes. He fired five winners and benefitted from 13 unforced errors by Nishikori in the opener.
SET TWO - Djokovic 6-3
Djokovic won his 23rd consecutive set in claiming the opener and he would show no mercy as the second got underway. He snatched an immediate break in the first game and consolidated for 2-0.
Players often press too hard and abandon their comfort zone when facing Djokovic. A battle of two of the supreme backhands on the ATP World Tour, Nishikori scored just one winner off his preferred wing in the first set and the unforced errors persisted as the match wore on.
Djokovic's defence was impenetrable, crawling out of a 0/30 deficit in the fourth game. A sublime forehand drop shot winner with Djokovic on his heels was a bright moment for Nishikori as he held for 2-3, but the Serb was at his hot shot best as well, striking a brilliant forehand pass on the run in the next game.
Nishikori received a visit from the trainer after the seventh game for an apparent left knee injury, and with his movement impaired, could not recover the break of serve as the match inched closer to the finish line. Djokovic would seal the victory 6-3, 6-3 after one hour and 26 minutes, claiming his sixth Miami title and a record 28th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. He converted on his third match point as a Nishikori forehand flew long.