MIAMI: World number one Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round of the ATP and WTA Miami Open on Sunday (Monday in Manila), defeating Portugal’s 38th-ranked Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1.
Two-time defending champion Djokovic, trying to match Andre Agassi’s record of six career Miami titles, needed only 78 minutes to win his 12th match in a row at the hardcourt event and 26th in his past 27 Miami starts.
“That first set could have gone either way,” Djokovic said. “I managed to hit the right balls at the right moment and make it to the finish.”
The 28-year-old Serbian, who won his 11th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open two months ago, also has crowns at Doha and Indian Wells this year and hopes to complete the Miami-Indian Wells sweep for the third consecutive year.
Djokovic’s next foe will be Austrian 14th seed Dominic Thiem, who dispatched 124th-ranked Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-2 in 64 minutes.
“He has one of the most powerful baseline games in tennis,” Djokovic said of Thiem.
“He likes to construct his points so I will try and take away his time. He’s had one of the best years of his life. He’s beaten Nadal on clay. He’s one of the players in the next generation we should all look out for.”
Thiem captured his fifth career ATP title last month by beating Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the Acapulco final and downed 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal on the way to a Buenos Aires claycourt crown.
“I’m sure he wants to showcase all that he’s got in his arsenal but I will be sure to be ready for him,” Djokovic said.
Sousa fell to 0-3 against Djokovic and 1-21 against top-10 foes with his 19th such loss in a row since beating David Ferrer in Kuala Lumpur in 2013.
“He came out with a clear game plan,” said Djokovic. “He wanted to take his chances. He did not have much to lose. It can be dangerous. I know the importance of stepping up a few levels and delivering my ‘A’ game.”