Roger Federer begins his Miami Open defence on Saturday afternoon with a match against qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis. It will be just Kokkinakis’ fifth match at main tour level this year with the Australian currently boasting a 2-2 record.
Kokkinakis has had three good wins to get this far including a win over Djokovic-slayer Taro Daniel in qualifiers. He then dropped just three games in the first round against Calvin Heremy, finishing his match off in just over an hour. With just 13 matches played last year due to injury, he has a long way to go in his hunt for a spot back in the top 100.
Federer has had a long time to recuperate after his final loss to Juan Martin Del Potro at Indian Wells. Having lost on Sunday, his opening match in Miami comes 6 days later. “It always takes a few days, anyways, to recover from a busy and high-intensity weekend. Regardless of how difficult the match was physically, you still have a letdown emotionally, you know, because you’re drained from that perspective.” he said of his post-tournament process.
After taking back the No. 1 ranking last month, holding onto it remains a big motivation for Federer. “Winning tournaments, I guess trying to stay world No. 1, trying to get to world No. 1 at this point because I’m so close, everything is so tight. Stay injury-free, enjoy myself, try to beat the best players that are out there.” Federer said when asked what motivates him still at this late stage in his career. A quarter final run guarantees Federer the top spot heading into the clay where Rafael Nadal will need to defend a shedload of points to even keep close to Federer in the rankings.
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets