Words by Jack Sumner
After Roger Federer’s triumph in Indian Wells, the ATP Tour’s American hard court swing continues this week in Miami…
Last week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Roger Federer continued his remarkable start to 2017 by winning his second title of the calendar year. The Swiss Maestro looked imperious in California as he added the Masters event to his Australian Open crown, not dropping a set and broken only once, whilst dispatching two top ten players in Rafael Nadal and finalist Stan Wawrinka.
He’s in magnificent form and playing a revitalised brand of attacking tennis, but at thirty-five, can Federer’s body hold up for back-to-back Masters 1000 events?
A boost for Federer and the rest of the field comes via the news that the world’s top two players – Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic – will miss the tournament with elbow injuries.
Action in the main draw gets under way on Wednesday.
Location: Tennis Center at Crandon Park, Key Biscane, Miami, Florida.
Founded: 1985 (34th edition)
Prize fund: $7,913,405
2017 dates: 19th-21st March (qualifying), 22nd March to 2nd April (main draw).
Defending 2016 champion: Novak Djokovic
Most titles: Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic (6)
Points breakdown*: Winner – 1000, runner-up – 600, semi-finalist – 360, quarter-finalist – 180, round-of-16 – 90, round of 32 – 45, round of 64 – 25, round of 128 – 10.
(*The 32 seeded players receive a bye to the second round and automatically accumulate rankings points for that round).
Big name casualties
As previously mentioned, both Murray and Djokovic – the reigning champion here in Miami – will miss this year’s event through injury. There had also been fears that world number five Milos Raonic would be on the sidelines after he missed Indian Wells, but the Canadian has confirmed he will be back on court this week and is in the draw. How close to match fitness he will be however, remains a mystery.
World number 11 Gael Monfils announced on Monday that he will go into rehabilitation for his patella and achilles injuries and looks set for a prolonged period away from the game.
Federer made a huge climb from number ten to number six after his Indian Wells win and with no points to defend again in Miami, a deep run this fortnight could see him elevated even further. In fact, if Federer can better the performances of last year’s runner up Kei Nishikori and 2016 quarter-finalist Raonic, Roger could head into April as the world number four. At number seven and with only 10 points to defend, Rafael Nadal could also jump as high as fourth, though he would likely need to at least reach the final to do so.
With his run to the final at Indian Wells, Stan Wawrinka distanced himself from the chasing pack and solidified himself as the primary challenger to Murray and Djokovic’s duopoly on the rankings. In the absence of the top two, Wawrinka will be the top seed in Miami and should he win the tournament, he would cut the gap between himself and Djokovic to 1,220 points.
There is little to split places eight to ten, with the points that Dominic Thiem defends this fortnight once again backed up by his additional ‘next best’ tally in reserve.
|Ranking||Player||Total points||Points defending at Indian Wells||Next best*|
(*On account of having played additional tournaments to those that are currently accounted for in the rankings, these replace Miami Open points if they are a higher value after points are dropped. For example, if Dominic Thiem earns only 45 points for reaching the third round of the Miami Open, his ‘next best’ score of 90 supersedes those points and is factored into his overall points tally.)
The draw and outlook for top stars
“Winning Miami is not an obsession, (though) I would love to add Miami to my CV.”
The words of four-time Miami finalist Rafael Nadal, who was the runner-up here in 2005, ‘08, ’10 and ’14. Along with Paris, Miami remains one of only two Masters 1000 events that Nadal hasn’t won, despite coming close here on so many occasions. The 30-year-old Spaniard has made a good start to 2017 however, reaching the final of the Australian Open and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco. He is yet to win a title this season though, and suffered a lop-sided straight sets defeat to Federer in the fourth round at Indian Wells.
Miami was the site of Nadal’s first two career meetings with Federer, where as a teenager he shocked the then world number one in the 2004 third round. Federer exacted revenge in the final a year later and those matchups set the scene for what has arguably become the greatest rivalry in tennis history, with a new chapter emerging following their two battles this year.
This year’s Miami draw has placed Federer and Nadal in opposite halves, so a final meeting is possible if they can each navigate their way to the second Sunday. That however, will be a tall order.
As in California, a tough quarter awaits Federer who faces the prospect of a third round meeting with Juan Martin Del Potro and a quarter final with Dominic Thiem. Nadal meanwhile may have to battle past a quarter final with Raonic if the seeds progress.
Top seed Wawrinka finds himself in the top half of the bracket but in the opposite quarter to Federer, in a section that also includes Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, and John Isner. Kyrgios and Zverev met in a third round encounter at Indian Wells, billed as a battle of future grand slam winners. Kyrgios was victorious in their first professional meeting, but the talented German teenager will be eager to turn the tables if they meet again here.
In the other quarter in Nadal’s half of the draw, a likely encounter in the last eight could see Nishikori take on Marin Cilic.