By Tucker Verdi
A testy exchange of words and a cold handshake defined what should have been an unglamorous match between the No. 31 seed and an unseeded qualifier. But that unseeded qualifier, Thanasi Kokkinakis, had just defeated Roger Feder, so of course people were paying attention.
The heated volley of words began with Kokkinakis complaining to the umpire about his opponent – Spaniard Fernando Verdasco – interrupting his service motion. Verdasco responded in kind by complaining about an individual in Kokkinakis’ player box who was interrupting his service motion. That individual: Kokkinakis’ father.
Drama aside, it was a high-intensity match, lasting 2 hours and 54 minutes. Kokkinakis took the first 6-3, Verdasco took the second 6-4, and the third set went to a tiebreak to decide the match. Kokkinakis stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak but failed to capitalize, losing his next two service points and eventually the tiebreak 7-4.
No. 17 seed Nick Kyrgios sailed through to the fourth round with a straight sets win over No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3. The Australian, who has been plagued by injury this year, is a two-time semifinalist this year and has yet to face a break point in the tournament.
The highest remaining seed in the top half – No. 4 Alexander Zverev – had to stage a comeback after dropping the first set to David Ferrer 2-6. The 20-year-old German turned the match around and won 6-2, 6-4 to advance to a fourth round matchup with Kyrgios.
2016 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson also dropped the first set to Russian Karen Khachanov 4-6, but stormed back to win easily at 6-2, 6-3.
It was a bad day for Americans as three exited the tournament on Monday. No. 8 seed Jack Sock fell to No. 29 seed Borna Coric, who advances to his second consecutive Masters round of 16 following his semifinal run in Indian Wells with a 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 win. No. 11 seed Sam Querrey was upset by 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov. Shapovalov double faulted 12 times in the match, but still pulled out a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win. And No. 16 seed Pablo Carreno Busta beat unseeded American Steve Johnson in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.
One American’s fate in the third round is yet to be decided, as the match between Frances Tiafoe and No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych was delayed due to rain with Tiafoe leading 6(2)-7, 6-2, 5-4. It will be picked up this afternoon and the winner will play again later in the evening against Kevin Anderson.
For full results of the day’s action, visit miamiopen.com/2018-results.