After a disappointing outing at Indian Wells, Novak Djokovic will be hoping for a much better time at the Miami Open. He will begin his tournament against the Frenchman Benoit Paire. Djokovic has thrived at this tournament in the past with 6 titles overall including three straight from 2015-2017.
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There were concerns over Djokovic’s ability to mount a deep run at Indian Wells after his absence but it came as a major surprise when he was sent home after his first match, losing in three sets to Taro Daniel. Losing the final set 6-1 when the Serbian rarely fades in long matches was also something of a shock. “For me it felt like first match I ever played on tour. Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost my rhythm. But I was grateful to be out on the court that quickly after surgery.” Novak said afterwards, perhaps implying his return to court came quicker than experted.
Paire came from a set down to beat Mischa Zverev 6-1 1-6 6-2 to earn his match against Djokovic. However, his serving will need to be improved on if he is to have much of a chance. While he served eight aces, the six double faults and a first serve percentage of 43% will open the door for much better returners to take him apart on service games.
Pre-tournament, Djokovic said he was pain-free in the elbow that has been plaguing him for so long. “The last few days have been the first days in long, long time that I could actually focus on the game rather than have something in my mind always worried whether I’m going to have pain or not, and usually it happened,” he said. The Serbian may finally be ready to mount a full comeback and challenge for the No.1 spot after a 2017 that was a write-off.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets