The Miami Open men’s event kicks off on Wednesday with Novak Djokovic hoping to bounce back from his disappointment at Indian Wells. It will no longer be at the Key Biscayne venue, having moved to the Hard Rock Stadium venue from this season. Djokovic aims to win his seventh title, having dominated the event in the early 2010s. Rafael Nadal will not compete after withdrawing with the knee issues that saw Federer-Nadal 39 called off.
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Djokovic seemed set to finally get the Indian Wells record to himself but was shocked by Philipp Kohschreiber, leaving him at 5 in California. There’s no danger of anyone catching his total here, with the slow Miami courts proving perfect for is his game. He is 23-3 against his likely first opponent Tomas Berdych, while later matches in the first week against potentially John Millman and Roberto Bautista Agut don’t look too troubling. The Spaniard won his first nine matches of the season but has since looked poor, most recently losing to Yoshihito Nishioka. Fabio Fognini is fresh off a deep run in doubles with Djokovic at Indian Wells, where they made the semi finals.
John Isner was last year’s champion but will need to put in a huge effort to repeat that feat, especially with a projected quarter final against Djokovic. The American will need to work hard to keep his spot in the top 10, needing to at least make the final. His record this year is far from stellar, going 10-6 with a number of bad losses to begin the season. He make play Lucas Pouille, who is now on a three match losing streak, in round three with Milos Raonic looking to continue his good form another possible seed he could play early. Raonic eased his way to a semi final at Indian Wells but will be ruing his failure to make it one step further, given the level of Roger Federer’s performance in the final.
Dominic Thiem‘s confidence levels are going to be sky high after picking up his first Masters 1000 title. The Austrian thrived in the conditions at Indian Wells and was rewarded with a title there. The slow courts are likely to suit him in Miami as well but a back-to-back seems incredibly unlikely. The third seed should be fairly confident of making at least the quarter finals though. Gael Monfils was in line to play Thiem in the quarter finals at Indian Wells but had to withdraw following his dominant victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber. The Frenchman is having a strong 2019 though and should really expect to get the chance to face Thiem again, if he is fit. However, the 0-4 record against the 3 seed is likely to raise concern.
Nick Kyrgios‘s continued inconsistency was on show again over the past month. He was incredible in taking the Acapulco title, taking multiple top 10 scalps, only to lose in the opening round at Indian Wells. There is no doubting his top level ability but he remains hard to predict week to week. A third round with Kei Nishikori is a great match on paper but it does rely on both players to get there. If Nishikori can make the quarter finals, he will be confident of his chances against Thiem in their sixth career meeting. He is 3-2 against the Austrian, although they are yet to play on an outdoor hard court. Borna Coric caps off the seeds in this half of the drop, hoping to bounce back from his disappointing loss to Ivo Karlovic last time out.
Kevin Anderson has not played since the Australian Open, having withdrawn from Indian Wells recently. The South African will look to get his season going with a good run here. Steve Johnson will be looking to pull off the upset win but it’s Karen Khachanov that is the stand out choice here. The Russian played well at Indian Wells, making the quarter finals. He will be disappointed to have not beaten a wounded Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals there but it was a good run nonetheless. He had struggled to begin the season so picking up a number of wins, including one against Isner, will be good his confidence. Grigor Dimitrov is another player who has not played since the Australian Open, where he lost to Frances Tiafoe. Miami has not been too kind to him recently with losses to Guido Pella and Jeremy Chardy in past years.
Roger Federer fell out of the top 4 after failing to win the Indian Wells, something that may prove damaging to him in later tournaments. However, he remains a top 4 seed here with Rafael Nadal’s absence from the event. While he has been a strong performer in the first half of the Sunshine Double, Miami has been a source of relative disappointment. He has made the final just four times and once this decade in six attempts. He is still a three time winner (05, 06, 17) but has had the tendency to slip up at this event – including last year to Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. Anything less than a semi final will still remain a disappoint though – his first seeded opponent could be Stanislas Wawrinka while Daniil Medvedev is expected to be waiting in round four. The Russian has had a strong start to the year but has tailed off recently with disappointing losses to Ricardas Berankis and Filip Krajinovic in the past month.
Expectations will have been high for Stefanos Tsitsipas as the Greek played his first tournament since entering the top 10 at Indian Wells. Tsitsipas lost heavily to Felix Auger-Aliassime, something he will hope to bounce back from quickly in Miami. Guido Pella looks to be one of best possible seeded players he could play, with the Argentinian far stronger on clay than even very slow hard courts. An all-seed fourth round between him and either Denis Shapovalov or Marin Cilic could be interesting. He and Shapovalov split matches in early 2018 – it shows a sign of their progress that neither player was in the top 40 during their January and April clashes but Shapovalov is a top 25 player and Tsitsipas a top 10 one. Cilic will be seeking quick revenge on Shapovalov for his defeat at Indian Wells. The ninth seed was beaten fairly comfortably, failing to break serve once in his 6-4 6-2 loss by the youngster.
Alexander Zverev caps off the draw as second seed. The German takes advantage of Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal to be boosted upwards. A losing finalist last year, Zverev will be eager to go one step further but will still need to navigate a route that could well include both Federer and Djokovic to take the title. After his quarter final run in Melbourne, Frances Tiafoe would have been considered a tough out even for a player like Zverev early in the draw. However, he has been struggling recently with four defeats out of his last five since that tournament. Other than Tiafoe and surprise Indian Wells quarter finalist Miomir Kecmanovic, there doesn’t appear to be a great deal that should concern Zverev. He will want to put his loss to Jan-Lennard Struff quickly out of his mind and a deep run here should do that.
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Kei Nishikori
SF: Roger Federer def. Alexander Zverev
F: Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer