The men’s seeds roll out on Friday in South Florida. Among those in second round action in the blazing sun and heavy humidity at the Miami Tennis Masters are tournament hopefuls Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, JW Tsonga and Milos Raonic.
Nadal plays in the evening against Santiago Giraldo. Rafa’s still looking for that first title since the French Open and his first hardcourt victory since Tokyo in the fall of 2010. Nadal’s played well enough of late – beating those he should beat – but off his favored clay the Spaniard doesn’t seem to have that same confidence and intensity (anymore).
But Friday night against the Colombian Giraldo he should be able to kill off any bad taste left over in his mouth from his horrid play against Roger Federer last weekend.
While Nadal has been steady this season, Murray has been a mixed bag. With high hopes, Murray laid an absolute egg at Indian Wells losing meekly to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Now in his second home of Miami and with Ivan Lendl on his heels, I expect a better performance this week. However Murray’s draw is loaded with landmines right from the get go as tomorrow he’ll start against Girlando’s countryman, the tricky Alejandro Falla.
Falla stunned Mardy Fish at the Australian Open and nearly pulled off the upset of the decade extending Roger Federer to five sets a few years ago at Wimbledon.
Also tomorrow, darkhorses David Nalbandian, Tsonga and Gilles Simon are on the schedule.
As for a pick, Federer is still the favorite but I don’t think he’ll win it. Someone or something (a low flying plane as the joke goes) is going to get him. Winning both Indian Wells and then Miami back-to-back just sounds too tall a task even for someone as hot as Swiss.
“I’d love to win another double, Indian Wells and Miami,” said Federer who hasn’t reached the Miami final since 2006. “I’ve done it twice before. I know how to do it, but I know how difficult it is. Just because I’m playing well doesn’t mean that the rest of the group is not.”
If Federer’s the favorite but won’t win it, then is Novak Djokovic the guy? Nope, not in my mind. The defending champ has to be eager to collect a scalp like Miami, but he just seems to occupied with off court engagements and enjoying the high life of being the best tennis player in the world. Can you blame him? And really, outside his Australian Open title his play the last six months has been very “Old Nole” – only two non-Slam Top 10 wins over Tipsarevic (Dubai) and Berdych (London).
As I wrote earlier, Rafa, who’s never won Miami, just doesn’t have it on the hardcourts and Murray’s draw with Raonic, Simon and then possibly Tomas Berdych just to get the semifinals could be incredibly tough.
But I think Murray rebounds this week, beats Tsonga in the semifinals only to lose to…. Juan Martin Del Potro in the final.
That’s right, I’m picking Del Potro here. The big Argentine has had a great season and he’s more than due for a big win. I think he somehow beats a very tough David Ferrer, upsets Djokovic in a match that determines the title, and then finally gets that mythical win over Federer to reach the final where he simply overpowers the Scot.
Yeah, it’s a head scratcher. I guess you could say I got a bad case of March Madness. No better time time to get it than now!
TV coverage for the Miami Masters – aka the fifth Slam – begins Saturday on the Tennis Channel. (Imagine a Slam having no TV coverage the first three days!)
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