With Roger Federer now in the three hole in the latest ATP Rankings, the big drama with the Miami draw today was in what half the Swiss would fall. And is it turns out Federer landed in the Rafael Nadal half leaving the red-hot Novak Djokovic paired with Robin Soderling and in his quarter Andy Murray.
Overall, I think the draw came out pretty fair. With the exception of Soderling who drew Juan Martin Del Potro in his 16th, things came out even;y distributed.
Nadal opens with either Kei Nishikori or Jeremy Chardy and then Juan Ignacio Chela. In the fourth round he’ll be tested by either JW Tsonga or Alexandr Dolgopov before a showdown with Berdych in the quarters. Berdych, the 2010 runner-up, has a great draw out the quarterfinals with only Ernests Gulbis and maybe Ivo Karlovic to get past. And if Berdych is playing like he did a year ago when he upset Federer, he could do it this time to Nadal.
Federer also appears to have a cozy section. The two-time champion will have Fabio Fognini in his opener then Juan Monaco before Marcos Baghdatis or Mikhail Youzhny – hard to pick between those two. Federer may then collide in the fourth round with defending champion Andy Roddick, who may have his hands full trying to beat Gilles Simon to get there. That Simon v. Roddick clash could be quite a dandy a week from today.
In the bottom half, as I said Soderling will be under the gun immediately in his opener against Ivan Dodig who I think beats Andrey Golubev in one of the better first round matches. From there I think he does get Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round, and I like Delpo there. I think DelPo comes out to the quarters to play David Ferrer. To get there, Ferrer will likely have to go through Milos Raonic, who is seeded for the first time at a Tennis Masters, then Stan Wawrinka. A deeper inspection reveals that quarter is the most wide open with Delpo, Soderling, Wawrinka, Ferrer or even Raonic coming out. But I think it will be Delpo – Miami, afterall, is a very South American friendly tour event.
In the final quarter, I didn’t think Djokovic would win Miami but looking at his draw it’s hard to see him losing early. He’ll open with Denis Istomin to then play Tomaz Bellucci and followed by either Viktor Troicki or Sam Querrey. If it’s Troicki maybe he gives his countryman a win? In the quarters I’ll pick Murray to get there but I’ll do it cautiously. Murray spends a lot of time in Miami so that should spark him to some success. But the Scot has lost seven straight sets and is in rather precarious tailspin right now. If he can beat John Isner in the third round that should do wonders. He’ll have Fernando Verdasco perhaps in the fourth before an Australian Open rematch with Djokovic.
My early semifinal picks looks like Nadal v. Federer, Del Potro v. Djokovic and right now I’m picking Nadal to beat Del Potro in the final and win his first career Miami title.
The quarterfinals by seeding look like: 1 Nadal v. 7 Berdych, 3 Federer v. 8 Roddick, 8 Ferrer v. 4 Soderling, 5 Murray v. 2 Djokovic.
The semifinals by seeding: 1 Nadal v. 3 Federer, 4 Soderling v. 2 Djokovic.
Among the best of the first rounders I like Fognini v. Stepanek, Haase v. Tipsarevic, Karlovic v. Mayer, Berankis v. F. Lopez, Chardy v. Nishikori and as I mentioned Gulubev v. Dodig.
The tournament has already released a prelimanary schedule with Del Potro playing Wednesday afternoon, Murray on Friday afternoon and Djokovic Friday night.
Matches begin on Wednesday with Tennis Channel coverage I believe starting this weekend. ESPN2 takes over TV coverage next Wednesday.
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