Racket Response: Midway at Miami

We're now into the second week of the prestigious Miami Open. We've lost some big guns such as Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Maria Sharapova.

But much more has gone down lately. In another edition of Racket Response, here are the top headlines from our tennis staff.

Happy birthday, Juan!

Leonardo Ayala, ESPN Deportes: If anyone was surprised when Juan Monaco signed "31!!" on a TV camera Sunday, right after completing a third-round victory in Miami, checking his bio online should provide an answer. It was Monaco's 31st birthday, and he presented himself with his second straight win over a top-25 player. This time, it was against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain. It was also Monaco's third victory in succession at a Masters 1000 event, something he hasn't achieved since the 2012 Miami event in Miami when he reached the semifinals. Monaco is now among the top five all-time Argentinian winners. Monaco, whose 315 victories is one more than Juan Martin del Potro has, trails only Juan Ignacio Chela (326), José Luis Clerc (375), David Nalbandian (383) and Guillermo Vilas (929).

Welcome company for Murray?

Michael Beattie, ESPN UK: Andy Murray will be hoping for company later in tournaments from British-qualified talent soon after world No.83 Aljaz Bedene, who won the 2015 Irving Tennis Classic by beating Tim Smyczek in three sets, was granted a British passport. Bedene, born in Slovenia but a UK resident since 2008, will follow the path of Greg Rusedski, a Canadian who also switched flags before his retirement in 2007. Murray was showing some good form at Indian Wells last weekend and welcomed the move, but he is not keen to change the nation's successful Davis Cup team for the time being, even if the ITF allows Bedene to play for Britain after representing Slovenia. "We have a team that's being doing extremely well and I would expect we would stick with that team," Murray said.

Nadal clamoring for clay

Carl Bialik, FiveThirtyEight.com: The European clay season can't come soon enough for Rafael Nadal. He has played nine tournaments off his favorite surface since winning his ninth French Open title last June. In each one, he has failed to reach even the semifinal. His latest defeat, to Fernando Verdasco, was his seventh to a player outside the top 20 in that time. And most of the men who've beaten him had little prior success against Nadal, including Verdasco, who'd won just one of his prior 15 matches against his countryman. This is a big drop-off from the level Nadal displayed over the prior six years on hard courts and grass -- winning five majors while losing just 10 times to players outside the top 20. Aging in tennis, like in other sports, tends to drag players back down to their level when they were much younger, back before they peaked. If that's where Rafa is now, then he's still really, really good on clay. Between January 2005 and February 2008, Nadal won just five titles off clay, and lost 18 times on hard courts or grass to players outside the top 20. He also won the French Open in each of those years.

It's getting bad for Bouchard

Peter Bodo, ESPN.com: Whenever a player hits a bad patch, the question always comes up: Is it time to panic? For Miami No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard, who lost to qualifier Tatjana Maria in her first match (second round) at the Miami Open, the answer probably is a resounding "yes." It isn't as if Maria is a hotshot junior. She's 27 years old, ranked No. 113 but has had a top-10 win before. Maria upset Li Na five years ago -- after which the German slipped back to journeywoman status. That she took a break from the tour 15 months ago to have a child is an interesting detail, but you can't read too much into it, either. It appears that the pressure that Bouchard handled so gracefully after she achieved two Grand Slam semifinals and a Wimbledon final in 2014 has caught up with her. Although she got off to a good start this year (she lost to No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open), she's won just two matches since.

Don't mess with Azarenka

Greg Garber, ESPN.com: You can see Victoria Azarenka coming. After an injury-filled 2014 season, she is slowly, surely rounding into form. She wasn't seeded at the Miami Open because her ranking was too low, but she was easily the most dangerous floater in the draw. This, Jelena Jankovic -- a finalist at Indian Wells -- discovered in the second round. Vika dispatched her, setting up a delicious third-round confrontation Sunday with Flavia Pennetta. They had split four previous meetings, and this one could not have been closer. The 33-year-old Italian took it 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), but Azarenka and her fans have to be encouraged by her results. She suffered an obscenity warning, but that was probably a good thing. The two-time Grand Slam champion looks like she'll be a factor in the second week of the season's next three majors.

Isner the lone hope again

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com: You can't question the status of the American men without an eye-roll reaction. Although the subject is a trite one, there is an air of optimism lately, thanks to Jack Sock's hasty revival and Donald Young's resurgence (not to mention the influx of successful juniors). However, as of Monday, all the Yanks have fallen at the Miami Open except No. 22 seed John Isner. Just like that, the 6-foot-10 Tampa resident is the lone hope for a nation that hasn't won a singles title of any kind since Isner himself did last July. Outside of Isner, no American man has snared a championship since 2012, when Andy Roddick won two events and Sam Querrey one. For Isner, his journey on Key Biscayne has become trickier. He next takes on No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov (Monday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3), and if Isner prevails, he'd likely face fellow ace-maker Milos Raonic in the fourth round.