DEFENDING champion Andy Murray was knocked out of the Sony Open in Miami at the quarter-final stage by Novak Djokovic, who claimed a 7-5, 6-3 win.
In their first match since last year’s Wimbledon final where Murray triumphed, Djokovic was the victor, although the game hinged on a controversial moment in the first set, when the Serb was leading 6-5.
With Murray serving to stay in the set Djokovic advanced and appeared to play the ball before it passed over the net – which is against the rules.
The moment was a turning point and although the point stood, Murray seemed to be unable to put it to the back of his mind and lost the game against his serve, with Djokovic duly claiming the first set.
The world No 2 then wrapped up the second set in comfortable fashion, with Murray still discussing the controversial moment deep into the contest.
The match went on serve in the first set – although Murray had to fight to hold in the fourth game – until the controversial moment swung the momentum into Djokovic’s favour.
Murray was serving to level at 6-6 when Djokovic rushed forward and appeared to hit the ball while his racquet was over the net and not on his side of the court. Murray complained to the chair umpire but his protests fell on deaf ears, and Djokovic duly claimed the game to love to take the first set 7-5.
The Scot continued his protest in between sets but to no avail, and his Serbian opponent was on top as he quickly served to claim a lead in the second.
However, the match settled down and the two men matched each other game for game until Murray broke Djokovic in the fifth, only to suffer a break of his own serve in the very next game.
Djokovic broke again to take a 5-3 lead and served out the next game to love to claim the second set and the match 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 30 minutes.
There was drama late on Tuesday when a bomb scare locked down the tournament. It failed to ruffle Rafa Nadal who brushed past Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2 to reach the last eight.
Officials announced a suspicious package had been left near the main entrance to the sprawling tennis facility which was quickly locked down, keeping thousands of spectators from entering or leaving while Miami Dade police investigated.
The all clear was given just before Nadal stepped on to the Crandon Park centre court to face Fognini in the final match of the night. The Spaniard showed no signs of being alarmed by the bomb scare as he completed the win in 62 minutes.
“Every day I have to try to find my rhythm, try to think about myself, what I have to do well, so I just try to be focused on what I really need to do to play well,” said Nadal.
“Then the opponent is free to do whatever. Tonight was not an easy match for him, for the conditions that I told you before. So it was a little bit strange, but in general, I think I was very focused and solid with my serve.”
Nadal’s next opponent is Canadian Milos Raonic, who beat Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-4.
“He’s a very dangerous opponent,” added the Spaniard.
Nadal’s great rival Roger Federer was also in cruise control, needing just 49 minutes to dismiss ninth seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2.
“Look, things went well out on the court today,” said the Swiss 17-times grand slam winner. “You just take what you get and you run with it.
“I think I played well. I served well. I made my returns I had to and stayed aggressive, so I didn’t let him just make errors.
“I forced him to do stuff. It was a good match for me.”
Unsurprisingly, the bomb scare was the main topic of conversation in the arena. Word first began to filter through that people were not being allowed to leave the facility as world No 1 Serena Williams was playing fifth seeded German Angelique in a quarter-final on centre court.
“Yeah, there was a bomb threat and a lockdown but that’s all I know about it. Scary,” said Williams after beating Kerber.
Security has been beefed up around major North American sporting events since last year’s Boston marathon bombings left three people dead and wounded 264.