American Steve Johnson played nearly even with No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych during their two-hour and 42-minute match on Sunday at the Miami Open presented by Itau. But on the biggest points in tennis – break points – Berdych was the clear winner.
The Czech converted two of his 10 break points, one in the first set and one in the third, to beat the No. 31 seed 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3. Johnson, meanwhile, was 0 for 10 on break points. Berdych moves into the fourth round in Miami for the fourth consecutive year.
He had a chance to get off the court earlier. The 30 year old had a match point during the second-set tie-break, but Johnson erased it with a service winner and evened the match. To start the third, it looked like Johnson was on his way to breaking his 12-match losing streak against Top 10 opponents.
The 26 year old had two break points in the first game of the third set, but Berdych held to reclaim the match's momentum. He later broke Johnson in the fourth game of the third set and served out the match at 5-3.
Berdych, who has made the Miami Open semi-finals the past two years, will play a Frenchman in the fourth round, either No. 10 seed Richard Gasquet or No. 20 seed Benoit Paire.
Austrian Dominic Thiem also earned a place in the fourth round on Sunday. In a battle of up-and-coming ATP World Tour players, the No. 14 seed dismissed Next Generation star Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-2. Thiem broke the Japanese qualifier four times. The 22 year old will face the winner of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Joao Sousa of Portugal.
No. 15 seed David Goffin continued his strong play at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments this month. Goffin, who made the semi-finals in Indian Wells last week, defeated the No. 19 seed Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-1. The Belgian broke the Serbian five times and erased the lone break point he faced during the 54-minute match.
Goffin will face lucky loser Horacio Zeballos, who's making the most of his second chance in Miami. Zeballos, who lost in qualifying but replaced Roger Federer when he withdrew, erased a match point for Fernando Verdasco and beat the Spaniard 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Sunday. Zeballos, No. 112 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, now has won two consecutive matches at an ATP World Tour event for the first time since February 2014 in Sao Paulo. By making the fourth round, the Argentine also has achieved his best result at a Masters 1000 tournament.
Goffin leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-1. Zeballos, though, won their only match on hard courts, a straight-set win in Miami in 2014.