Indian Wells is over after yet another dream run by fan-favorite Roger Federer, and we look forward to the second ATP Masters 1000 stop, at Miami – the Miami Open 2017 Presented by Itau. The American desert swing has been a huge success over the years, with Miami Open playing a not-so-distant second fiddle to the Indian Wells Masters. The center court, known as the Stadium Court, is one of the biggest courts in the world with 13,800 seats.
The Last Edition
As was a norm for most of 2015 and 2016, then ATP topper Novak Djokovic won Miami Open 2016, equaling Andre Agassi’s record of winning the title thrice consecutively. Djokovic did not lose a set, en route to a emphatic 28th Masters title win, thrashing whoever came his way. Nick Kyrgios reached his maiden Masters semifinal, losing to finalist Kei Nishikori 3-6, 5-7.
Miami Open 2017
This time around, the ATP scene has undergone a massive change. Sir Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the top 2 players, have withdrawn prior to the draw release, owing to right elbow injuries. As a result, Swiss no. 1 Stan Wawrinka will be seeded 1st in a Masters tournament for the first time in his career! Canadian no. 1 Milos Raonic is unsure of participation as well, and if he does withdraw, Japanese Kei Nishikori will be seeded 2nd.
The Big Guns
Swiss no. 1 and top seed Stan Wawrinka has a poor record at Crandon Park, with a 7-8 Win-Loss record. His best results came in 2009 and 2014, reaching the Round of 16 in both occasions. Stan, who made his maiden American Masters final last week in Indian Wells, is on a two-match losing streak in Miami. But, with his confidence soaring ever higher, it’s likely that he will turn around his bad-patch and reach the latter stages of the draw for the first time ever!
World no. 5 Milos Raonic has been plagued with injuries this season, and his 2016 form is seemingly beyond his reach, at the moment. Injury affected his Australian Open campaign, didn’t let him play the Delray Beach final that he was supposed to contest against a rising Jack Sock. The 26-year old has a 10-4 Win-Loss record there with best appearances being 2 quarterfinals in 2014 and 2016. It will be interesting to see how he manages to take care of his injury – if he can – and compete against the best players.
Swiss legend Roger Federer won the recently concluded Indian Wells Masters, thus becoming one of the few players to have achieved the Australian Open-Indian Wells double and now he’s eyeing for the historic Indian Wells-Miami double. Boasting a 44-13 Win-Loss record with 2 titles coming in 2005 and 2006, Miami hasn’t exactly been Federer’s happy-hunting-ground, going by his stature. Moreover, he has featured in 2 of the last 5 editions – 2014 being the latest. But the Race-to-London leader will surely be eager to compete and play just as well as he had done so far!
Rafael Nadal has been in good form this season, but is yet to win a title. His recent losses to Roger Federer must have hurt his pride and it’ll be interesting to see how the Spaniard approaches the so-called semi-clay courts of Miami. This tournament hasn’t exactly been a favorite of his, especially since he has never won the title in his long and illustrious career, losing the final 4 times, and he’ll surely be pumped up to change his record and finally win Miami to close in on Djokovic’s Masters record.
The 27-year old world no. 4 Japanese Kei Nishikori has faltered this season, failing to win any title yet. His Indian Wells run was cut short when Jack Sock got the better of him in a stunning three-set display. Nishikori has a 17-6 record in Miami, with one final last year, where he lost to a dominant Djokovic 3-6, 3-6. He will be eager to do it again or maybe even go one step further and win his first ever Masters title!
The Young Guns
Much like Indian Wells, the young gun force will be led by Nick Kyrgios, who seems to have been in a better place mentally, off late and good results are just around the corner. His 2017 form has been impressive with 2 back-to-back victories over Novak Djokovic and he’ll be under the spotlight when he begins his campaign.
Alexander ‘Sascha’ Zverev was the first one to depart from the epic Quarter of Death last week, owing to his 3-6, 4-6 loss to Kyrgios, but the German teen has been under the spotlight for quite some time due to his prodigious display of tennis. He will be looking forward to enjoying a successful run at Crandon Park over the next 12 days.
Other youngsters who have impressed in the past, featuring this week are Borna Coric, Karen Khachanov, Kyle Edmund, Taylor Fritz among others. Fritz especially awed fans and pundits in Indian Wells with an amazing display of aggressive tennis and reached Round of 16, after getting his first top-10 victory against Marin Cilic in 3 sets.
The Dark Horses
The dark horses last week were a hit – Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta and American Jack Sock reached maiden Masters semifinals and have been improving at a steady rate. After spending around 75 weeks between 21 and 30, Sock finally broke inside the top 20 this season and currently sits at 17, and looks hell-bent on breaking into the top-10. Carreno-Busta, on the other hand, broke the top 20 following his run to the Indian Wells semis, and has been in impressive form this season, making finals and semifinals at a constant rate!
No dark horse list can be complete without the Argentine superstar Juan Martin del Potro who lost to Novak Djokovic last week after a difficult three-setter. His forehand and serve is only getting better, and it seems he is only getting better every week.
With no Murray or Djokovic this year at Miami, it’ll be interesting to see who wins the title on the 2nd of April. Things are about to get hot and happening in the desert.