The Miami Open begins on Wednesday on the men’s side but will be without the two top players in the world. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both announced their withdrawals over the weekend due to elbow injuries, leaving Stanislas Wawrinka as top seed. With Djokovic completing a threepeat last year, it means the tournament will have a different winner for the first time since 2013.
Full draw here: Miami Open Men’s Draw
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As top seed, Stanislas Wawrinka should be amongst the favourites but currently resides as fifth favourite with the betting markets. Despite making the final in Indian Wells last week, he did look vulnerable at times having had to win final set tiebreaks against Nishioka and Thiem. Roger Federer defeated him with relative ease in the final, quickly snuffing out a second set fightback to win in straight sets 6-4 7-5. His quarter of the draw is far from tough but includes the two brightest youngsters in the game right now in Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev. Zverev’s first main tour title came at the expense of Wawrinka last year, winning in St Petersburg last September in three sets.
Miami is also known for providing their wildcards to those represented by IMG – who back the tournament. Amongst them is Casper Ruud, who first made a name for himself making the semi finals in the Sao Paolo tournament last month. Ruud may not make it past Yen-Hsun Lu in round one but is definitely one to look out for in the future. Zverev will play the winner of that match and then likely John Isner in round three, looking to match his only outing against Isner where he won in straights in Shanghai last year. Kyrgios had looked in stunning form at Indian Wells, picking up wins over Zverev and Djokovic without facing a single break point. It was a shame that food poisoning saw him have to withdraw from a blockbuster clash with Federer in the semi finals. If he is fully recovered, he will have the opportunity to pick up another big Swiss scalp in the quarter finals instead. The head to head currently stands at 2-2 although both players have a retirement win when well ahead in the score.
While he was excellent in Melbourne to get No.18, Roger Federer looked even more dominant en-route to his fifth Indian Wells title. He was near unbreakable, only dropping serve once in the final to Wawrinka in a straight sets victory. It had been in question whether he may withdraw but as of now he still looks set to play, with the opportunity to move further ahead in the year to date rankings still at stake. He is also already back in the top 8 after missing the second half of last year and can take the number 4 spot if he wins the tournament as many expect him to do so.
A third round clash with Juan Martin Del Potro would be the first since late in 2013 when Federer won three setters in back to back weeks against the Argentian. It is a disappoint spot for Del Potro to land in the draw as he looks to move further up the rankings to aid him in slam draws where he still feels like a contender at times. Also in the second quarter is Sam Querrey, who fell back down to earth after his Acapulco title by losing his opener to Donald Young at Indian Wells. Tomas Berdych looks to bounce back from his disastrous loss to Yoshihito Nishioka in Indian Wells, likely opening against wildcard Andrey Rublev. Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem is the other top 10 seed in this section. The Austrian made the quarters last week, losing to Wawrinka in a third set tiebreak.
Milos Raonic is back in a draw for the first time since he gave a walkover to Jack Sock in the Delray Beach final, gifting the American the title. He doesn’t have the most strenuous of early matches in the draw with Mischa Zverev and the aforementioned Sock the likely seeds in between him and the quarter finals. Raonic is 8-2 against Sock but did lose the most recent meeting in Shanghai last year. Grigor Dimitrov displayed much better tennis to begin 2017 with a title both sides of his Australian Open semi final run but has come down to earth somewhat with losses to Sock and David Goffin in his last two tournaments. A deep run may be too much of an ask here but with Rafael Nadal lurking in round four, there is plenty to be excited about. The pair played a 5 hour thriller in Australia that the Bulgarian will feel he should have won given the break point chances he held deep into the fifth set of that match. While he may not win even his first round against Jiri Vesely, the return of Tommy Haas under a protected ranking is a welcome sight given the bad injury luck he has had in the past few years.
A losing finalist last year, Kei Nishikori will hope to go one better this time round especially with the aid of his no.2 seeding. He does drop temporarily to No.7 in the live rankings due to the defending of 600 points but there isn’t much in his quarter to scare him currently. Kevin Anderson may have previously been a tough out but is currently 1-3 on the year while another potential unseeded danger in Daniel Evans was defeated by Nishikori in straights at Indian Wells. Pablo Carreno Busta did make the semis at Indian Wells but was aided by one of the softest draws in a long time while the other seeds include Lucas Pouille and Gilles Simon. Marin Cilic is awaiting as 7th seed in the quarter finals if they both make it there and could be a tough out for Nishikori. The Japanese star edges the head to head 7-6 overall with a 6-5 lead on hard courts.
Finals Prediction – Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal