Roger Federer took control on a court where balls were flying as the top seed opened his bid for a third Miami Masters title 6-3, 6-3 over Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti Saturday.
Only hours after holder Andy Murray was bundled out 6-4, 6-4 by American Mardy Fish, Federer emerged as the last of the top three survivors a mere five days into the 13-day event.
On Friday second seed Novak Djokovic was also dispatched. “It worries me as well being the top seed, seeing high seeds fall out of the tournament,” confessed the Swiss. “I haven't even started playing yet, and there's two, you know, big names out of the tournament already.”
Federer said he needed to get accustomed to conditions at night before earning a break per set to tame Lapentti for a fourth time without defeat.
“I’m relieved I'm through the first round. I’ve got a feeling and a sense of how it plays out there in a match situation when the stadium is full,” said the winner.
“I came through because I served very well,” said the Swiss. “I had a good start into basically all my service games. I always knew I was gonna have a couple of chances at least on the return games.
Murray never found his rhythm after losing an opening break against Fish, a modestly-ranked 101 whose career has seen better days.
“Mardy served well when he needed to, especially the second set when he was down break points,” said Murray, who said he has not felt himself on court since January's Australian open, where he lost the final to Roger Federer.
“I just wasn't very good today, and I'm gonna need to get a lot better. When I played Mardy in the past I was able to play smart. My bread and butter is on my return game and my groundstrokes, and they were poor.”
Murray, who played the Indian Wells final a year ago and then won in Florida, will head into the clay season early with only a quarter-final and his latest loss to show for his March effort in North America.
“I need to find a way to get round it, and I'm sure I will,” Murray said of his poor form. "I've gone through bad patches before, and I just need to practice hard, work hard, and get stronger.”
Fish, 28 and playing Miami for a ninth time, has duplicated his career best at Crandon Park.
Swedish number five Robin Soderling eased past Australian Peter Luczak 7-6 (7-5), 6-0 while seventh seed Marin Cilic beat France’s Stephane Robert 6-3, 6-1.
Ninth seeded Chilean Fernando Gonzalez stopped Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 6-4, 6-4.
Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, the number ten, eliminated Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-2; Russian 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny hammered Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-0, 6-1.
On the women's side, top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was untroubled by Hungary's Agnes Szavay 6-2, 6-3.
Third seed Venus Williams remained the last home player in the women's draw after a defeat of Italian Roberta Vinci with a 6-1, 6-4.
Williams owns Miami titles from 1998, 1999 and 2001.
She is now rising a 12-match win streak after titles in Dubai and Acapulco in February and two wins this week.
“Being on a winning streak helps my confidence every time,” said the 29-year-old. “I still ultimately believe in me and my game – of course I really enjoy winning as many as I can in a row.”