Tuesday, 19 March 2013

ATP Miami: Preview and Predictions

The men kick off tomorrow night with a far weakened draw compared to Indian Wells with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both not choosing to play.  The top 32 seeds all have a bye into the second round.

FIRST QUARTER - N.Djokovic (1) v J.Tipsarevic (7)
Kevin Anderson
Novak Djokovic never looked on top of his game in Indian Wells and went out in a cracking semi-final to Juan Martin del Potro, which was his first loss of the 2013 season.  He will still be the overwhelming favourite in Miami where we will take on a big server in the second round; Gilles Muller or Nadal-slayer, Lukas RosolTommy Haas and Nikolay Davydenko are the most dangerous players he could meet before the quarters; Davydenko opens against Paolo Lorenzi and should have the beating of the inconsistent, Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round.

You know the big names are out when Janko Tipsarevic has made it as a top eight seed.  The Serb is on a crushing run of five straight losses and has been served up two bagels in his last two matches.  Tipsy will meet a qualifier or Marinko Matosevic in the second round.  In his current form, its unlikely he will make it past the third round where he could play the in-form, Kevin Anderson, who could quite easily back-up his quarter-final in Indian Wells with the same result in Miami.  Anderson could meet Gilles Simon again in the 4th round, who poses the biggest threat in a terribly weak section of the draw.  A second rounder between Simon and Lleyton Hewitt would be interesting though.

1st Round Predictions - Rosol to beat Muller in 2 tight sets, Devvarman to beat Donskoy in 3 sets and Davydenko to beat Lorenzi in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Djokovic vs. Anderson

SECOND QUARTER - D.Ferrer (3) v J.M.del Potro (5)
David Ferrer
David Ferrer has certainly taken some stick over the last couple of weeks as he was bludgeoned by Rafael Nadal in the Acapulco final and then lost his first match at Indian Wells to Kevin Anderson.  I think he will make a resurgence in Miami where the draw has been much kinder to him.    He will play a qualifier in his first match and his first projected seed is Fabio Fognini although I would expect the Italian to depart to the winner of an all French battle between Benoit Paire and Michael Llodra Kei Nishikori heads up the other part to this section.  His draw is a doddle, but a persistent abdominal injury may threaten his chances.  The strength of this section should allow him to make the 4th round though.

I keep repeating that this section and that section is weak, but it really is! Juan Martin del Potro should have few problems in making at least the quarter-finals.  His route is projected to go through Marcel Granollers (in round three) and Juan Monaco (in round four); Granollers may have to get past Jurgen Melzer in round two, who won an Challenger tournament in Dallas last week.  Monaco still has not won a set this year on the ATP tour, yet alone a match.  The best player in his section who could benefit is Julien Benneteau although he does prefer a quicker surface than Miami.  Del Potro beat the world's best two players last week, but he has always had problems with Ferrer and I would actually back the Spaniard to win that quarter-final if both make it, which they should do!

1st Round Predictions - Paire to beat Llodra in 3 sets, Harrison to beat Blake in 2 tight sets, Melzer to beat Berankis in 3 sets and Kavcic to beat Kamke in 2 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Ferrer vs. del Potro

THIRD QUARTER - R.Gasquet (8) v T.Berdych (4)
Tomas Berdych
Richard Gasquet gets a promotion to number eight seed this week and could meet Mikhail Youzhny in the third round.  The flying Frenchman who has had a very solid year up till now, is projected to meet Nicolas Almagro in the round of 16.  The Spaniard meets the winner of an all-Argentine first round match between Carlos Berlocq and Guido Pella in round two Phillipp Kohlschreiber is also in the section and remains a threat despite bombing out in his first match in the desert to Benoit Paire.

Tomas Berdych had a very good week in Indian Wells, making the semi-finals but wasting key opportunities in his semi-final to Rafael Nadal.  He will play Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Denis Istomin in the second round, before a possible meeting with Fernando Verdasco, who spectacularly lost 6-1 6-0 to Jarkko Nieminen in the desert last week.  The big test will come in the 4th round where Berdych could meet the winner of a third rounder between Milos Raonic and Sam Querrey.  Raonic came off best in their most recent match-up in San Jose, but its a difficult match-up to call.  I think Berdych will definitely be challenged in the 4th round, but he should make the semi-finals here...

1st Round Predictions - Goffin to beat Haase in 2 sets, Berlocq to beat Pella in 2 sets and Istomin to beat Gimeno-Traver in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Almagro vs. Berdych

FOURTH QUARTER - J.W.Tsonga (6) v A.Murray (2)
Andy Murray
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a solid two weeks in the desert, but he will have to play much better if he is to surpass his quarter-final showing there.  Martin Klizan is the first seed he could meet; however one of the best first round matches, which features Jarkko Nieminen and David Nalbandian is likely to produce Tsonga's third round opponentMarin Cilic and John Isner are the other two seeds in this section.  Isner's form has been dire in 2013 and I would not be surprised to see another early exit; even if he does make the third round where I think he will play Cilic, I would always back the Croatian in that match-up.

Andy Murray has the toughest draw of the top eight seeds as he is likely to meet a string of talented players starting with Bernard Tomic in round two.  The young Aussie would first have to get past a qualifier.  The two highest seeds in Murray's section are then Grigor Dimitrov and Jerzy Janowicz, the latter took out the Brit in Paris last year.  I certainly hope we get a Tomic/Murray match-up because that promises to be epic.  Janowicz should meet Andreas Seppi in the third round, which would be a tight, tight match, but I like Janowicz's chances of making the last 16.

1st Round Predictions - Nalbandian to beat Nieminen in 3 sets, Dodig to beat Lacko in 2 tight sets and Levine to beat Bolelli in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Tsonga vs. Murray

Final Prediction - Djokovic d. Murray
It's not cutting edge, but I think Djokovic will beat Murray in the final of Miami.  I fancy Djokovic to give Ferrer another pasting in the semi-finals.  If del Potro did find a way to beat Ferrer in the quarter-finals, I do not think he would beat Djokovic for a second time in two weeks.  Murray has a tough draw, but I think he will really improve on his Indian Wells showing and take out Berdych in the semi-finals.

You can view my full predictions for Miami HERE

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