Fri, Mar 21, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Del Potro, Murray provide off-court drama in Florida

SOLID START:On the court, Peng Shuai of China, who will play in the doubles with Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, easily beat Karolina Pliskov to advance in the women’s singles

AFP, MIAMI

Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan returns to Donna Vekic of Croatia in their Sony Open match on Wednesday in Key Biscayne, Florida. The 43-year-old Date-Krumm was beaten by the 17-year-old Croatian 6-7, 2-6.

Photo: AFP

The Sony Open offered up a pair of off-court surprises on Wednesday as Juan Martin del Potro withdrew and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray split with coach Ivan Lendl.

The loss of eighth seed Del Potro, still suffering with the left-wrist injury that has compromised his season, could deliver a box-office blow to the event, with plenty of South American fans in the Miami area.

“I still feel pain in my left wrist and I don’t feel competitive to go on court,” Del Potro said. “It’s a pity because this is a special tournament for me since there are many Latin fans, and Argentines in particular. In the next few days I will visit my doctor again to determine the following steps.”

German lucky loser Benjamin Becker replaced Del Potro in the draw, which has all the seeds given byes into the second round.

Del Potro has been troubled by the wrist since injuring it in his opening match at the Australian Open three days after winning the Sydney title in early January.

The former US Open champion has tried to play, but with little success, winning one round at Melbourne and reaching a Rotterdam quarter-final, before retiring in the first round in Dubai against India’s Somdev Devverman.

Murray called it quits with Lendl after a two-year partnership, with a joint statement on Murray’s Web site announcing the move.

“Working with Andy over the last two years has been a fantastic experience for me,” Lendl said. “He is a first-class guy. Having helped him achieve his goal of winning major titles, I feel like it is time for me to concentrate on some of my own projects moving forward, including playing more events around the world, which I am really enjoying.”

Under Lendl, Murray won an Olympic gold, the 2012 US Open and last year’s Wimbledon title.

“I’m eternally grateful to Ivan for all his hard work over the past two years, the most successful of my career so far,” Murray said. “I’ll take some time with the team to consider the next steps and how we progress from here.”

Murray prepares to defend his Sony Open crown as he continues to return from back surgery.

With seeds absent, Wednesday was reserved for lesser lights fighting for spots in the second round.

Australian Matthew Ebden overcame Poland’s Lukasz Kubot 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, Adrian Mannarino of France downed Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko — the 2008 champion — 6-4, 7-5 and Spain’s Albert Montanes beat Michel Przysiezny of Poland 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.

In a women’s singles field led by defending champion Serena Williams, China’s Peng Shuai, who is once again teaming up with Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei in the doubles in Miami, defeated Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-0.

Vania King of the US blanked Spain’s Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-0, 6-0, while Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson eliminated Germany’s Mona Barthel, who retired with a stomach complaint while trailing, 6-4, 4-2.

Lauren Davis of the US, who reached the fourth round last week in Indian Wells, advanced over China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3.

Austria’s Patricia Mayr-Achlietner beat Italian Karin Knapp 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, while Argentine Paula Ormaechea knocked out Katarzyna Piter of Poland 7-6 (7/0), 6-1.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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