The second of the back to back Masters 1000 tournaments kicks off for the men on Wednesday afternoon with Roger Federer once again the favourite to take the title. He defeated Rafael Nadal in last year’s final to win the tournament for the first time since 2006. The World No.1 must make at least the quarter finals to maintain his grip on the top spot heading into the clay season.
Check out the Miami 2018 Draw
Federer will be ruing his inability to close out the Indian Wells final, failing to take 3 match points on serve against Juan Martin Del Potro. It meant he failed to take a record sixth title there and ended his winning streak to begin the season. He should have no trouble starting a new one in the early rounds with Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Pablo Carreno Busta his biggest threats. He is 6-0 against Verdasco while beating Carreno Busta in their sole meeting to date. All eyes will be on a potential semi final with either Nick Kyrgios or Alexander Zverev and a final rematch with Del Potro.
Sixth seed Kevin Anderson will look to justify his high seeding once more, having made the quarter finals at Indian Wells. Other than a first round loss at the Australian Open, the South African has been impressive in 2018 posting a 14-4 record so far. If he wants to make the quarter finals again, he may have a tough task ahead. Karen Khachanov is the first potential seed while Kyle Edmund will hope to have the opportunity to meet him in round four having beaten him already this year in Melbourne. No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych rounds off this quarter – the Czech was an early loser at Indian Wells thanks to Hyeon Chung.
The second quarter does not provide a whole host of names who appear to offer a legitimate threat to Federer in a potential semi final. Borna Coric had a career tournament at Indian Wells and will believe he should have beaten Federer from *4-3 up in the decider having done a great job on the Swiss’ backhand. The 29th seed will hope to build on this run with Jack Sock the high seed in this part of the draw. Sam Querrey was a quarter finalist at Indian Wells after two first round losses in his previous two tournaments. With 3 out of his last 4 losses coming to noted big servers in Anderson, Raonic and Fritz, Querrey will be glad not to see any of these names early on. However, the Miami surface is not the most productive for someone like this.
Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev both have history against Federer and have beaten him in big tournaments. Should they get there, there’s no doubt that either are capable of picking up the win. Zverev is 2-3 against Federer while Kyrgios has won 1 of their 2 meetings. However, injury has meant Kyrgios has not played since Davis Cup in early February. A combination of Fabio Fognini and Dusan Lajovic/Horacio Zeballos should allow him to ease into the tournament before a potential fourth round with Zverev. Zverev is at risk of losing his top 5 ranking if he suffers another early loss like at Indian Wells. Losing in three to Joao Sousa, the German fell to 8-4 on the year.
Juan Martin Del Potro finally won his first Masters 1000 title last week after three losing finals. The Argentinian proved why he is the one to beat in the bottom half of the draw with that run, extending his record over Federer in finals to 4-2. The projected clash with Novak Djokovic did not happen there but it could do in the fourth round this time. If Djokovic’s performance in the loss to Taro Daniel last week is anything to go by though, it may not be too competitive. Having skipped Indian Wells, Kei Nishikori will look to make his move back up the rankings but Del Potro may prove too much for the 26th seed in their expected third round match.
Milos Raonic will be full of confidence after his unexpected semi final run at Indian Wells. Having been low on matches, he beat two qualifiers and Sam Querrey before his loss to eventual winner Juan Martin Del Potro. He will be eyeing the fourth round at least with Diego Schwartzman the seed to beat. The Argentinian beat David Ferrer and Karen Kachanov at this event last year, taking advantage of the conditions. Grigor Dimitrov is projected to advance from the third quarter of the draw but has to be placed below at least Del Potro in terms of most likely to. He is now on a three match losing streak, including losses to Jaziri and Verdasco at Dubai and Indian Wells respectively.
Marin Cilic continued his disappointing run of performances at Indian Wells with a loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber early on. His record at Miami (9-9 career, QF best) is also disappointing for a player of his calibre, giving the likes of Andrey Rublev and John Isner confidence of springing a shock should they meet the Croatian. Rublev will not want to make it four losses in a row with his opener against Karlovic or Pospisil while Isner is in the same situation although both of them should be favoured to win their openers. Cilic is 7-2 against Isner while winning his only meeting against Rublev when the Russian first burst on the scene.
David Goffin returns after missing Indian Wells, beginning against either Ryan Harrison or Joao Sousa. The Belgian made back-to-back semi finals indoors but otherwise his only action is a second round exit at the Australian Open. Felicano Lopez is the first seed he can play but an inspired Marcos Baghdatis may prove to be a threat. The Cyrpiot won 6 matches at Indian Wells (including qualifying) before having had to withdraw prior to a winnable match with Milos Raonic. Hyeon Chung seems the most likely to advance to the quarter finals from this section given his form in 2018. The Korean got to have another crack at Roger Federer at the same stage at Indian Wells, losing in straight sets to him.
SF: Roger Federer def. Alexander Zverev
SF: Juan Martin Del Potro def. Hyeon Chung
F: Roger Federer def. Juan Martin Del Potro