The second of back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 events kicks off in Miami this week. While Indian Wells saw a number of shocks along the way including the defending champion Rafael Nadal‘s defeat to Alexandr Dolgopolov, there was a familiar look to the final which Novak Djokovic came out on top in. Andy Murray is the defending champion for the event and will be under pressure to defend it with the rankings placing him at No.8 with last year’s points taken off.
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Nadal skipped the event last year and so can extend his lead at the top of the ATP World Tour rankings even more with a good run here. He opens against either Lleyton Hewitt or Robin Haase. It will be the second meeting between the pair in round one, Hewitt taking a five setter in Wimbledon 2008. Hewitt is 3-1 against Nadal on hard courts although the most recent of those three wins was in 2005 when Nadal was slamless. The draw could put Dmitry Tursunov against Denis Istomin for the fourth time this year if the Uzbek can see off Nicolas Mahut in round one. Tursunov won the first encounter in Sydney but Istomin gained revenge in Melbourne and Montpellier.
Possible fourth round opponents for Nadal include Fabio Fognini and Jerzy Janowicz. Both have troubled the Spaniard in losing efforts late last year although Fognini was much closer having had a set lead in Beijing. Janowicz’s inconsistencies remain and he may find it tough against a rising Roberto Bautista-Agut - fresh off defeating Tomas Berdych in Indian Wells. Meanwhile, Fognini will play either Kenny de Schepper or a qualifier. Amongst those that are possible opponents are Andrey Golubev, Jimmy Wang and Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Having had to withdraw before his third round clash in Miami last year, Milos Raonic will be hoping this year goes much better for him. He finds himself in a section with two seeds that have injury doubts although will likely need to beat Gael Monfils first to take advantage. Raonic plays either wildcard Guido Pella or a qualifier while Monfils takes on US No.3 Bradley Klahn. Klahn will be eager to prove himself after a wildcard snub at Indian Wells. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is first up for him.
Both Juan Martin Del Potro and Vasek Pospisil have had it tough this year with injuries and it is possible that Del Potro may not even compete after withdrawing from Indian Wells with an injury. Pospisil plays a qualifier in round two while Ryan Harrison stands between an all-Argentinian clash in round two between Del Potro and Federico Delbonis.
A potential third round match between in-form Marin Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka promises a lot if both can safely navigate round two. Cilic has won 16 of his last 18 matches, losing only to Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych. Wawrinka should ease past either Daniel Gimeno-Traver or young wildcard Karen Khachanov, who impressed in Russia late last year. Meanwhile, Cilic has a slightly tougher match up with Igor Sijsling or Edouard Roger Vasselin first up.
Bernard Tomic makes his return in this tournament after almost 2 months out. He plays Jarkko Nieminen in round one with a match against Alexandr Dolgopolov up for grabs. The Ukranian continued his run of good form in Indian Wells, making the semi finals. The other seed in this section is Tommy Haas who lost to finalist Roger Federer in Indian Wells. Haas will play either Mikhail Kukushkin or Yen-Hsun Lu, who he beat in straight sets at last year’s US Open.
John Isner moved back into the top 10 with his impressive run to the semis at Indian Wells and he should fancy his chances of at least a fourth round run to ensure he remains there. Donald Young or Carlos Berlocq are first up for Isner, who is 3-0 against his fellow American. He could also face an American in round three if Sam Querrey can defeat both Sergiy Stakhovsky and Nicolas Almagro but that looks unlikely. Stakhovsky made the final of Irving Challenger last week, losing in three to Lukas Rosol.
Tomas Berdych rounds off the top half as seventh seed, looking to avoid a shock defeat two tournaments running. Stephane Robert once defeated Berdych at the French Open but a repeat looks unlikely but the other seed he may face in round three has a positive head to head against the Czech. Gilles Simon is 5-3 against Berdych but lost their most recent meeting. Simon has to defeat either Joao Sousa or Pablo Carreno Busta for the likely opportunity to extend that to 6-3.
Roger Federer looked in impressive form at Indian Wells, making the final and holding a set lead over Novak Djokovic before falling to defeat. The early part of the draw has been kind to him with a likely opening match against Ivo Karlovic. He is 10-1 against the Croatian who must defeat a qualifier to make it to round two. Victor Hanescu also plays a qualifier with the winner going on to play Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco picked up an impressive win over Richard Gasquet in Indian Wells before losing to John Isner.
Gasquet will hope for a better time at this event and should ease through to the fourth round. He is likely to play Kevin Anderson in round three, holding a 3-1 record over the South African to date. To make it that far, both players will play either a qualifier or a South American more comfortable on clay. Horacio Zeballos has a potential matchup with Anderson while Alejandro Gonzalez could await Gasquet. Gonzalez finally won his first match on the main tour and even more surprisingly, won a set off Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells.
Hoping to continue his good form this year is Grigor Dimitrov, who lost to Ernests Gulbis at Indian Wells. The Bulgarian has continued to improve and a potential quarter final with Roger Federer remains an attractive proposition. He begins against either Michal Przysiezny or Albert Montanes, neither of which should pose a great threat although Kei Nishikori looming in round three is a different matter. Nishikori defeated Dimitrov in Shanghai last year and is always a big threat if fit. Alejandro Falla or Marinko Matosevic stand in his way in round two.
With David Ferrer having skipped Indian Wells due to an injury picked up in Acapulco, he may have a tough task defending his final from last year – especially with Federer and Dimitrov amongst those ready to take advantage. An all-Spanish round two clash is on the cards if Marcel Granollers can defeat Teymuraz Gabashvili while Andreas Seppi is a vulnerable seed to round off the third quarter. Daniel Brands and Radek Stepanek will both fancy their chances of pulling off the upset.
The final quarter projects a Murray-Djokovic quarter final but with the way Andy Murray is playing, that is far from certain. Murray continues to struggle since his return from back surgery, losing early to Milos Raonic in Indian Wells. A third round match with Feliciano Lopez will be far from easy although Murray has coped well against the Spaniard in the past, going 8-0. Murray must first defeat either Matthew Ebden or Lukasz Kubot while Lopez should face Jiri Vesely. Vesely has one of the kindest draws for a non seed, facing Filippo Volandri.
While most of the wildcards were reserved for up and coming talents, there was one for Marcos Baghdatis. It’s an odd choice given the Cypriot’s troubles despite his performances in past years. Santiago Giraldo will be a tough test but should he succeed, Philipp Kohlschreiber is up in round two. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the final seed in this 1/8th of the draw and looks to improve after losing his opening match to Julien Benneteau at Indian Wells. The Frenchman is 6-1 against Kohlschreiber with wins on 4 different surfaces.
Novak Djokovic looks to make it four Masters titles in a row after winning in Indian Wells in addition to Paris and Shanghai. He looked far from his best at times last week but fought back to win the final in three sets. He is 9-0 and 7-0 against prospective round two opponents Juan Monaco and Jeremy Chardy respectively while his potential third round opponent Florian Mayer hasn’t won a set in five meetings against the World No.2. Mayer retired at Indian Wells last time out which could provide an opportunity for Ivan Dodig to make a small run. He plays a qualifier in round one.
Lukas Rosol comes into this event off a title at Irving Challenger after defeating Sergiy Stakhovsky in the final. He could trouble Tommy Robredo if they meet in round two – they went five sets at this years Australian Open. The final seed is Ernests Gulbis who awaits the winner of Julien Benneteau and Kyle Edmund. Youngster Edmund is the recipient of a wildcard but much of his success has come on American clay rather than hard courts so he may find it hard against the in-form Frenchman.
SF: Rafael Nadal def. Stanislas Wawrinka
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer
F: Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic