ATP Miami: Miami Open Preview

ATP Miami: Miami Open Preview

19 of the world's top 20 plenty head to Miami for one of the biggest tournaments of the year as the second ATP Masters 1000 event begins in South Florida with Novak Djokovic seeking his third straight title.

thomas-cluck
Thomas Cluck

19 of the world's top 20 players head to Miami as the ATP World Tour reaches its second Masters 1000 event of the season. World number one and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic headlines the field as the Serb goes for his third straight title in South Florida.

ATP Miami Tournament Overview

The Miami Open is the second ATP Masters 1000 event of the season after the BNP Paribas Open begins tennis' version of March Madness. The Miami Open is held at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida, an island off of downtown Miami. The Miami Open is known as one of the most prestigious titles on tour, with Indian Wells and Miami being just under the Grand Slams in prestige. Former champions in Miami include all-time greats such as Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer. The defending champion in Miami is world number one and 11-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic. Djokovic, a five-time champion in South Florida, edged past two-time Miami winner Andy Murray 7-6, 4-6, 6-0 in last year's final to claim the title.

First Quarter

The top quarter is headlined by defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic. Djokovic opens up against either British youngster Kyle Edmund or Czech lefty Jiri Vesely. The Serb could face the always dangerous Martin Klizan in the third round, before a potentially intruiging fourth round meeting with Dominic Thiem. The other high seed in the world number one's quarter is seventh seed Tomas Berdych. Though the Czech's big game is always dangerous, expect the defending champion to move through this quarter with ease.

Semifinalist: Novak Djokovic

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Second Quarter

The second quarter is headlined by 17-time Grand Slam champion and two-time Miami Open winner Roger Federer. Federer is making his return from knee surgery in early February, after a torn meniscus caused him to pull out of events in Rotterdam, Dubai, and Indian Wells. Federer is also making his return to Miami after not playing in South Florida last year. 

The Swiss great could open up against 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, arguably the pick of second round matches. Irronically, Del Potro beat Federer in 2009 to win his first US Open title and is also returning from injury, playing only his third tournament since a year off due to wrist surgery. If the world number three makes it past the Argentine, Federer could then play French 28th seed Jeremy Chardy. Chardy, a big hitting French player, has pushed the Swiss in the past, upsetting him in the opening round of Rome in 2014. Bearing any upsets for the two-time Miami Open champion, the Swiss would next play either David Goffin or Viktor Troicki. Federer should make it past all them, despite having a tough draw for the first two rounds in particular. In the quarters, the 17-time major winner could play another veteran, eighth seed David Ferrer. Though the two-time Miami champion has a seemingly tough draw added to coming back from knee surgery, expect the world number three to make it through to the semis playing a few three-setters along the way. 

Semifinalist: Roger Federer

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Third Quarter

The third quarter is headlined by four-time Miami Open finalist and 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and two-time major winner Stan Wawrinka. Nadal who struggled much of 2015 and the first two months of 2016, had a ressurgent week in Indian Wells, making the semis there before coming up short against Novak Djokovic in the last four. The Spaniard will look to keep up his vintage form to claim a maiden Miami crown. 

Nadal opens up against either Damir Dzumhur or Argentine Leonardo Mayer. In the third round, the fifth seed could face big hitting Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. The Brazilian has troubled Nadal before, taking a set off of him in their Wimbledon 2012 first round meeting. In the next round, the 14-time Grand Slam champion could face American Jack Sock or big serving Canadian Milos Raonic. Raonic has been one of the hottest players so far this year, but has major injury problems surrounding him as the Canadian continues to cope with a recurring abductor issue. In the quarters, Nadal could face the challenge of another big server in John Isner or Swiss fourth seed Stan Wawrinka. Much like with Federer, Nadal has a tough draw but expect the four-time Miami finalist to get one step closer to a maiden South Florida title and make the semis. 

Semifinalist: Rafael Nadal

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Fourth Quarter

Two-time Miami Open winner and last year's finalist Andy Murray headlines the fourth quarter as Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori sits at the top of this section. Murray faces a tricky opening round matchup against Croatian youngster Borna Coric in the second round. The Brit could potentially face Grigor Dimitrov in the third round before an electrifying matchup with Frenchmen Gael Monfils. In the quarters the two-time major winner could face Kei Nishikori or mercurial Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Semifinalist: Andy Murray 

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Getty Images

Predictions:

Semifinals: Djokovic def. Federer, Nadal def. Murray

Final: Djokovic def. Nadal

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