World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is back in Miami, where he will be looking to rebound from a disappointing week at Indian Wells, where he failed to retain his BNP Paribas Open title. The Spaniard will begin his campaign against former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who has continued to roll back the years with his great performances so far this season. The Nadal vs Hewitt head-to-head stands at 6-4, with the Spaniard having won their last five encounters dating back to 2007.
Top seed Rafael Nadal shocked fans in the California Desert last week when he was ousted in the third round of the event by resurgent Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. The defending champion had begun his fantastic 2013 season with the win at Indian Wells, and will now need to find that confidence in another tournament such as the Miami Masters. While his performance may not have matched his previous standards, Nadal had still reached the finals of his three previous events, winning two of the three titles.
Following his milestone 600th victory on the ATP World tour, Lleyton Hewitt is now scheduled to face the top ranked Nadal in the second round in Miami. The Aussie arranged the contest after defeating Robin Haase, where he recovered from a slow start to earn the 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win. Hewitt has already picked up a victory over a Top 10 competitors this season, when he blindsided 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in Brisbane finals, to win his first title since 2010. The title also lifted him back to the mantle of Australian No. 1, ahead of youngster Bernard Tomic, and Marinko Matosevic.
This marks the 11th time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 6-4. The Spaniard has won their last five consecutive encounters dating back to 2007 – a dominant streak he intends on extending this week in Miami. Hewitt’s last win over Nadal came at Queen’s Club in 2006, yet he is currently playing better tennis than the last four years and is more than capable of grinding out points against Nadal and forcing a third set.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets