Miami Open An ATP 1000 Event There For the Taking?

Miami Open

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The Miami Open still has a few top drawer names but with some question marks hanging over them, could we see a new name in the ATP 1000 winner’s circle for the second consecutive week?

Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro, and Novak Djokovic may all be heading up the Miami Open draw, but none of them are especially convincing favorites to take the win.

Federer did not look as impressive in this year’s Indian Wells as he did last year when he went on to complete the Sunshine Double and he has been promoting the Laver Cup in Chicago this week rather than resting up and preparing in Miami.

Federer will have the incentive that if he wins the tournament, his No.1 ranking will be that little bit safer as the clay season and Nadal’s return approaches. But all the incentive in the world may not protect him from Fernando Verdasco , the Swiss’ potential third round opponent, who may never have beaten Federer in six meetings and has taken just one set off him, but losing head to heads are there to be broken and Verdasco knows how to make an upset happen.

As for del Potro, the recent Indian Wells champ would not be blamed if he suffered a little bit of a letdown after his emotional win versus Federer. He has a tough draw, too, with a potential third rounder versus Kei Nishiori and a fourth rounder versus Djokovic. Those matches will not be the problem, though as he gets up for those kind of affairs. Instead, the problem could be the second round versus Robin Haase, Peter Gojowczyk or in the third round versus John Millman, if Millman defeats Nishikori, players with plenty of experience and skills who will have won a couple of rounds, have some form, and be ready to take a struggling del Potro out.

As for Novak Djokovic, he has said in his pre event interviews he feels physically fine, however just two weeks ago he also said he was not ready to play in Indian Wells and one wonders just how much progress he can have made in a week and a half. del Potro or Nishikori will be up for a contest with the Serbian and if he is still not ready, he won’t have any time to work his way into the tournament and get so.

A burned out Federer, a deflated del Potro, and an unpredictable Djokovic could mean that this Miami Open is an event for the taking. But who is going to step up?

Hyeon Chung and Borna Coric have the best form coming into the event. Coric made his first ATP 1000 semis in Indian Wells and played a great match versus Federer while Hyeon Chung reached the quarters where he played a decent first set versus the Swiss.

Coric may not be quite ready for an ATP 1000 trophy and will have his hands full with a potential third rounder versus 8th seed Jack Sock. The reigning Paris-Bercy champ has what it takes to win an open ATP 1000, and will have the home crowd advantage, and the winner of that clash would be in a strong position to make a run to the semis.

Chung, on the other hand, is ready and waiting when it comes to big titles. The surface suits him, he has a great draw, in the bottom half with the unpredictable Marin Cilic in his quarter and David Goffin, on the comeback from injury, in his sixteenth.

Kevin AndersonĀ  is another player in good form who could take advantage of an open Miami Open draw. The South African had a decent IW run and is a solid bet for the quarters where he could face Roger Federer who struggles with big servers far more than he used to, and Anderson has the self confidence right now to punish Federer if he is feeling at all off.

Is Anderson a potential ATP 1000 champion, though? He is better than that- he is a Grand Slam finalist, and with that experience behind him, he could be the man most qualified to make this open draw work for him having already survived high pressure tennis situations and the wide open draw that was the US Open bottom half. This time, Anderson has one of the tougher parts of the draw- Karen Khachanov in round 3, and Tomas Berdych or Kyle Edmund in round 4. Berdych plays well in Miami and Edmund, hit by a hip injury in Australia and who has played and lost just one match since making the Australian Open semis, will be dangerous if he has his health back, but confidence is everything in tennis and Anderson has it in abundance.

Milos Raonic, on the road back from injury, also surprised us with a semi final run in the desert last week, and considering his draw and how strong he looks, he could go deep again. But his lack of big match play in recent times is likely to be exposed when he comes up against a player in good form at the business end of the event.

Other than those four, the other most qualified candidates have not been particularly convincing of late. Marin Cilic went all Cilic on us, going out early in IW, and could meet the big hitting and fearless Andrey Rublev in round 3. Grigor Dimitrov got bounced by Fernando Verdasco in his IW opener and has suffered back to back losses in his last two matches, and while the draw has been kind to him in the early rounds, Diego Schwartzman, who has a history of pressing his buttons, might do so again in round 4. Sascha Zverev was also an early casualty in IW and has a tough draw with Stefanos Tsitsipas or Dannii Medvedev in round 2, David Ferrer in round 3 and Nick Kyrgios in round 4.

All those players, however, are more than capable of recovering from less than stellar performances, dialing into their A games in their next eventsĀ and going on a tear, and the Miami Open would be a good time to do so. There might be an ATP 1000 up for grabs, after all, and Cilic and Dimitrov have won one before, Zverev two, and along with some of their rivals in the draw, they will be ready to do so again should the draw open up and the chance they work so hard for be there for the taking.


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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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