New stadium, same Novak Djokovic in Miami.
Djokovic, who lifted the trophy on six occasions at the former tournament site in Crandon Park, found his form when he needed it most. As day turned to dusk at Hard Rock Stadium, the Serbian navigated to the finish line after suffering a second-set hiccup. He booked his spot in the fourth round opposite Roberto Bautista Agut.
Following a surprise third round defeat to Philipp Kohlschreiber in Indian Wells, the Belgrade native dispelled any thoughts of an early exit in Miami. He recovered from a 4-6 second set against Delbonis, notching the victory after exactly two hours.
Delbonis did well to match Djokovic’s intensity as the match wore on, opening the court and firing for the lines. He hit his forehand five miles per hour harder in the second set and it momentarily rattled the top seed’s defenses. But Djokovic would steady the ship, breaking for 3-1 in the decider and once again two games later. He closed out the victory on his first match point as Delbonis sent a backhand into the net.
Moreover, Djokovic extends his run of dominance against players from Argentina, improving to a staggering 36-3 since 2007. The three defeats came to Juan Martin del Potro at both the London and Rio Olympics and the 2013 BNP Paribas Open.
Djokovic, who made his tournament debut in 2006, is making his 14th consecutive appearance. Champion in 2007 – his first of 32 ATP Masters 1000 shields – and in 2011-12 and 2014-16, he holds a 22-1 mark as the World No. 1 in Miami.
Next up for Djokovic is 22nd seed Bautista Agut. The Spaniard has also not conceded a set thus far in Miami, following a second-round win over Janko Tipsarevic with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Fabio Fognini on Sunday.
Bautista Agut needed one hour and 24 minutes to dismiss the Italian, converting five of six break chances. The 30-year-old is seeking an extended stay at the hard-court event after suffering a first-round defeat two weeks ago in Indian Wells (l. to Nishioka).
But the Spaniard will take great confidence into his 10th FedEx ATP Head2Head clash against Djokovic. In their most recent meeting in Doha, he pulled the upset to kick off the 2019 season. In fact, he has prevailed in their two most recent hard-court encounters, having also triumphed at the 2016 Shanghai Rolex Masters.