Five-time Miami champion Novak Djokovic remains on track to capture the 2016 Miami Open presented by Itau after downing Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1 in the third round on Sunday. Djokovic has not lost in Miami since 2013 (l. to Haas) and is 26-1 in his past 27 appearances at the event. He is trying to match Andre Agassi’s record six Miami Open titles and move ahead of Rafael Nadal by winning a record 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.
“[Sousa] made me play,” Djokovic said. “He made me push myself harder in the second set because he was staying close to the baseline and picking up the balls very efficiently, which I wasn't expecting. I thought he was going to be playing from back of the court a little bit more.
“He was taking time away from me, especially from the side he was playing with the wind. He's a good player, he's very talented, he's very quick around the court; he served well. I started to read his serve better in the second and just didn't give him enough rhythm to maneuver.”
Sousa, who dropped to 1-21 lifetime against Top-10 opponents, punched above his weight class for most of the opening set. The No. 38 in the Emirates ATP Rankings won nine of 12 points returning the Djokovic second serve and broke the World No. 1 twice, but dropped serve three times.
With the first set under his belt, Djokovic rounded into form. He landed 86 per cent of first serves in the second set and only dropped three points on serve. Djokovic closed out the win in 78 minutes and improved to 3-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Sousa. He has never lost a set to the Portuguese.
“That first set came down to a few points,” Djokovic said. “After that, it was quite a good performance. In the second set I felt much more comfortable. I was serving very well the entire day. I'm glad that I managed to finish the match the way I did. Obviously, it gives me confidence for the next one.”
Next up for the top seed is promising Austrian Dominic Thiem, who made it four sets won in a row in Miami by beating Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday. Djokovic won 6-3, 6-4 in Shanghai 2014, their only past meeting.
Richard Gasquet dispatched countryman Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-0 in under one hour to move into the fourth round against Tomas Berdych. The No. 10 seed did not face a break point and converted four of six break points to maintain his perfect record (3-0) against Paire.