The ATP Tour stays in America this week as the second of the back-to-back ATP World Tour Master 1000 events is scheduled to be played in the sweltering heat of Miami, conditions which are made even harder by some of the slowest outdoor hardcourts on tour.
The tournament has been catching the headlines as it signals the return from injury of world number 3, and dual Miami champion, Roger Federer. However, conditions don’t really suit the ageing Swiss player and he hasn’t made it to the final here since winning in 2006. He also a tough looking draw in a difficult looking quarter with potential early opponents including Del Potro, Goffin, Cilic and 2013 finalist David Ferrer. Even if Federer negotiates these hurdles, he’ll then most likely face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Unsurprisingly, it’s Djokovic who again sets the benchmark in an event he has won 5 times, including 4 times in the last 5 years – and it’s hard to argue with quotes of 8/13, especially considering the quality of his tennis in Indian Wells last-week. The Serbian world number one was surprisingly beaten by Tommy Haas here in 2014, but it’s hard to see beyond him unless the lady members in the crowd choose to boo him over his slightly controversial comments about women tennis players not deserving to be paid the same money as the men.
The third-quarter looks the hardest quarter this week, with four-time runner-up Rafa Nadal seeded to play Milos Raonic, however the Canadian may well be feeling battered after his crushing final defeat in Indian Wells. It will also be interesting to see what happens if Wawrinka and Kyrgios clash, especially when you consider the maverick Aussies disgraceful sledging the last time they met. Top American John Isner also lies in wait, and could trouble any of these on a going day.
Second seed Andy Murray headlines the fourth quarter, and the Brit has fond memories of Miami after winning in 2009 and 2013, and also being runner-up in 2012 and 2015. He may well have to defeat Tsonga or Nishikori but, whilst he has a good record against those two players, he could struggle to beat either Nadal or Wawrinka in the semis, as both those players inflicted heavy defeats on him in last year’s ATP Finals.
Big Hitters Bet: Djokovic @ 8/13 (Betvictor, Stan James)
Each-way play: Nadal @ 16/1 (Stan James) ½ odds 2 places