Miami Men’s Preview: Will Novak Djokovic Defend Or Can Rafael Nadal Finally Win In South Florida?
by Sean Randall | March 24th, 2015, 10:32 am
  • 45 Comments

The second Tennis Masters event of the season begins Wednesday in Miami. Indian Wells finalist Roger Federer won’t be there, but World No. 1 Novak Djokovic returns bidding for a fifth career Miami title under the hot and sticky South Florida sun. Let’s go right to the draw.

First Quarter
Djokovic, who has won his last 10 Masters matches, is housed in comfortable first quarter that slots him against David Ferrer in the last eight. Djokovic could also run into Gilles Muller, Tommy Robredo, Ivo Karlovic and Steven Johnson. But really, there’s no one of any real opposition who should threaten Djokovic.

And I can’t really see anyone getting a set. Maybe Karlovic gets lucky in a breaker, but what a nice draw for someone playing well enough that he doesn’t need one.
The pick: Djokovic

Second Quarter
Kei Nishikori is the class of this section and he’ll need to be playing well to repeat his Final Four run of a year ago. His 16 section is relatively easy with only David Goffin and Roberta Bautista Agut in his path, but the quarter match could be tricky with big servers John Isner and Milos Raonic looming along with Grigor Dimitrov, Jeremy Chardy and the return of Juan Martin Del Potro who plays Vasek Pospisil in the first round. What a though section that is! I like how Raonic is progressing so I’ll lean his way.

Nishikori just beat Raonic and I think the Canadian would beat Isner and then Dimitrov if those matches happen. So…
The pick: Nishikori

Third Quarter
Two-time winner and part-time Miami resident Andy Murray is in the third quarter along with Stan Wawrinka. I’d love to see that match in the quarters. I like Murray’s draw with just Donald Young, Santiago Giraldo and Kevin Anderson in his way early on. Stan’s road looks a little tougher with wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis, Andrian Mannarino, and either Feliciano Lopez or Jack Sock. So I think somewhere he stumbles, leaving…
The pick: Murray

Fourth Quarter
Will this be the year Rafael Nadal finally wins in Miami? Assuming his right ankle is OK, it could be. But it’s a dangerous section, one that even includes the return of JW Tsonga! Nadal could meet countrymen Nicolas Almagro then Fernando Verdasco, then Ernests Gulbis – who finally got a win in Indian Wells! – followed by a big showdown against 2014 semifinalist Tomas Berdych. Of course that would be a massive rematch from the Australian Open and I know, everyone knows, Rafa wants revenge. And he’ll get it.
The pick: Nadal

Semifinals: Djokovic d. Nishikori, Nadal d Murray
Novak’s just too good right now while Murray just doesn’t seem to have it against the top guys. Maybe if Stan is there he can bother Rafa, but not Andy.

Final: Djokovic d. Nadal
It’s a rematch and a replay of the 2014 final. Rafa will have to wait for the clay to get back on top of Novak.

Tennis Channel has coverage tomorrow I think. ESPN starts their coverage next Wednesday through the finals.


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45 Comments for Miami Men’s Preview: Will Novak Djokovic Defend Or Can Rafael Nadal Finally Win In South Florida?

Ben Pronin Says:

Why do we still put “Don’t Care” as an option? If someone doesn’t care they won’t vote. Do we really care how many people don’t care??


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Really going out on a limb with those picks, eh?

Murray vs Wawrinka, Rafa vs Berdych are the matches I think are most interesting. If Rafa plays like he did in Indian Wells, he should take Berdych out. I remember him dominating Berdych at Miami a year or two back.

The Raonic/ Nishikori is also a great one to look forward to. What a rivalry these two are creating with long, close battles each time as they vie for Next Gen leadership.

Del Potro/ Dmitrov could also be a good one. Hope DelPo can come out strong.


Markus Says:

Ben Pronin: “Don’t care” is for the spiteful people.


Okiegal Says:

There might be a lot of tennis fans that love the sport but don’t really have a favorite…..they might be the fans who don’t care.


chris ford1 Says:

It’s not desperation, but Andy plays well, then goes belly up when he faces Nole in recent years or Rafa. Miami is where Andy trains. This is a surface that suits him well.
A win against Rafa even No1e, would be very big for Andy at this point. The lad needs a confidence injection to turn around a decline that started, really, even before the big uptick of Wimbledon 2013.


RZ Says:

I’d like to see a Murray-Nadal semifinal. Even though Nadal wins most of the time, I think Murray’s cat-and-mouse game shows up more visually (as in, it’s easier for me to see when watching on TV what Murray is trying to do via his point construction) against Nadal than it does against Djokovic or Federer.


Peter Says:

Berdych will win in the final. Novak will have a shock loss in the quarters. I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I’d be about to make a lot of money.


Okiegal Says:

I want to see Rafa in the SF with someone, I don’t care who!! Go Raf-a go Raf-a!! I know he will fight hard every match…… doesn’t seem to come as easy for him as it once did…..but he never gives up the will to win! I love to watch this guy play tennis. Good luck…..if there is such a thing???


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Okiegal, that is just a great post! Love the passion for the sport and players!


Patson Says:

@Okiegal

Dream big Okie ! Rafa wants to win. I actually want a Nole vs Rafa final. When was the last time they actually played each other ? The French open ? Would love to see two gladiators slug it out — with Nole winning at the end of course :)


Okiegal Says:

@TV…..Yeah, thanks! I am passionate about this sport and others too! I live for sports. Can you believe I married a man who hates sports? You’ve heard the term golf widow??? Well, my hubby is a SPORTS widower! Lol Tennis my favorite. I watch even though Rafa May not even be playing. That says a lot for my enthusiasm and passion for tennis.

@Patson……bite your tongue, good buddy! Nole the winner?? Well, we all want our favs to be the victor. I love to see those two oppose each other. I’ve got the FO 20014 recorded, when bored I watch it. Yes, those two are great to watch and Roger is good in the mix too! But, Patson, I think like Rafa, one match at a time…….

Nice chat with you two fans!!


Kimberly Says:

I will be going back tomorrow and giving full reports!


Okiegal Says:

@Kimberly……That will be great! Don’t you live in Florida?? I think I found you on Facebook. I am excited to know someone will be there with on the spot reporting! Have fun……and I’m so jealous…oh, not really, but do have a blast. :)


Kimberly Says:

I live in Miami—-you are welcome to friend me on facebook


Kimberly Says:

In fact the 4.0 night team I currently play on and the 7.5 combo league with whom I won the state championship, is based out of Crandon park, the place where the tournament is played!


Okiegal Says:

@Kimberly…..OK, I don’t have my own FB account, I’m on my hubby’s. You are right there. I know you must have a great time playing club tennis. I never did play. Took lessons once, and was terrible. I played basketball. I thought tennis was hard….a backhand……impossible for me. I had to give it up. But do love to watch it.


Daniel Says:

Potentail change in rankings this tournament, specially for Nadal, Murray, Raonic and Nishikori.

If Nadal doesn’t reaches final and Murray reaches R16, Murray passes Nadal.

If Nadal reaches final but Murray reaches semis, Murray passes Nadal.

If Nadal loses in Quarters, Murray passes him and Nishikori or Raonic can also passes him (the one who reaches semis in that quarter). So if Nadal loses in Quarters or earlier he will drop to #5 entering clay season. If all of the above went deep, accordingly to their ratings, we can have a clay season with rankings shifting every week.

Djoko and Fed are safe as #1 and #2 until RG.
Nadal even if he wins everything can’t pass Federer, only one who can is Murray if he wins 3 of the next 4 masters and Fed basically doesn’t win any points. Very unlikely.


Okiegal Says:

@Daniel……..With all the passing that’s going on in your comment…..I’m about to pass flat smooth out! Lol. However, all of that is interesting and confusing??


Daniel Says:

LOL Okiegal, indeed.

Basically if Nadal loses early in Mimai, he can drop to #5 entering clay and depending on his results, and Murray, Kei and Raonic during clay, he can enter RG as #5.

I think he can even drop out to #5, but eventually with clay season he will get back to #3 or 4 getting the seeding for RG.


Okiegal Says:

@Daniel^^^

I don’t need anymore bad news….the ankle about did me in!! Lol I guess we will soon see how it all plays out, should be interesting….


Margot Says:

@Daniel
Thanks for that break down. I’m really hoping Andy is seeded at least 4 for RG. He did well there last year, surprisingly enough, and has points to defend. A seeding of 4 would protect him to some extent.
Lol Hippy and OK, looks like I’ll be blowing lots of kisses ;)
OK: I’ve seen Rafa playing twice, once at the O2, where I also saw him on the practise courts, and at Wimbledon last year. Queens is a gr8 tournament. Looks a lot like IW/Miami to me. You can get up really close and personal to the players.


Okiegal Says:

@Margot…….Up close and personal…..you lucky dog……Are you gonna be able to reach out and touch someone?? Lol. The Queens venue looks smaller than any of the others, but is it?? Hope you have a great time, sounds like fun!! Hope your Andy has a great run there too.


Margot Says:

@OK
Walked past Dimitrov, could’ve touched him. ;) Was able to SPEAK to Cilic and others if I’d cared to. They were playing on court 1.Not so easy if they play Centre.
More difficult to get close to Rafa and Andy tho.
As it’s now a 500 I guess will be more popular but it’s a really small venue. Guess they might put up more temporary stands?
Davis Cup may be there, so they’ll have to.
Can imagine the snorts of disapproval from the posh members!


KatH Says:

@ Daniel

I think Murray, Kei and Raonic all reached the quarters last year and Nadal was a finalist. Is this what you have?


KatH Says:

@ Daniel

Did you see Murray is postponing his honeymoon until November and actually may play at Monte Carlo – evidently he is clued into the potential ranking merry-go-round that you indicated.


Okiegal Says:

@Margot

I will expect reports from you while at Queens. How far are you from there??


jane Says:

rz, i’d love to see that same semi-final happen too. it’s been too long since they’ve played off clay. you have to go all the way back to 2011 at tokyo.


Hippy Chick Says:

Id love to see a Murray/Nadal final for a change especially in a GS, it seems im never gonna get it though,the tennis gods dont want it….


Daniel Says:

Margot, Kath,

Actually Murray is number #2 in the race this year, 200 pts above #3, Djoko of course #1 with 3800 pts. Fed moved to #5 or 6 this week and Nadal is #9 with less than 1000 prs for the first time in a long long time.

Kei was semis last year along with Berdy, remember that both he and Berdy didn’t play and Djoko and Nadal had a walk over to the finals. My cousin got tickest and receive anothe rones for this year and he will attend again. Hope this didn’t happen again this year.

If everything goes accordingly to seeding, it all depends on Nadal this week or the semis between him and Murray, as they will play for #3 in that match. Kei and Raonic will play quarters for a berth to play Djoko in semis.


jane Says:

yes; daniel’s right. andy is presently #2 in the race; here are the live rankings:

http://live-tennis.eu/race

does anyone know if the “triple” double has ever been done: i.e., winning the IW/Miami double 3 times? i think nole has history against him this week in that regard?


KatH Says:

Thanks Daniel & Jane

I did see somewhere that Andy was second in the “Race to London” but didn’t believe it!!!
Quite clear with Jane’s link.


Ben Pronin Says:

IW-Miami double has been done once by Chang, Sampras, Rios, and Agassi. Twice by Federer and twice by Djokovic. So it would be a record.


Hippy Chick Says:

I cant see past Novak in doing the double again this year either,i know it sounds negative for fans of the other players,but i believe the rest are simply playing for RU spot….


jane Says:

thanks ben; yeah i didn’t think it had been done before but wasn’t sure.


Daniel Says:

If Djoko keeps the pace he is at in Masters final and titles won since 2011, he can finish this year in front of Fed or tied with him (if Fed wins 1 more). If Nadal underperforms in Masters (specially clay) as last year, Djoko can pretty much surpass both by the end of 2016.

Let’s face it, Nadal only won 2 masters after Clay this decade: 1 Canada and 1 Cincy, both in 2013, never won Paris nor Shangai with 1 final in each. So if he doesn’t bag 1 or 2 clay masters this year, very likely he won’t win any second half of the year. Whereas Djoko always won at least 1 Masters (won 2 in 2012 and 2013) in second half for the past 4 years, so he has a better chance of winning than Nadal.
Federer won 1 Masters titles second half tis decade with exception of 2013 and right now, his best and only real shot on clay is Madrid. Last year he had a golden opportunity in MC but Wawrinka was just better. If he never won MC or Rome in his golden years (although his problem was Nadal), most likely he won’t win those, unless he gets a really good week with everything in place for him and no long matches.

Djoko this year is more and more adding his name to history books, 5 th AO, 4th IW, and they are just keep coming. It would be nice for him to get a Cincy title (which is very odd considering his HC prowess) and 1 RG before he is done. As long as he keeps himself in contention he may have a chance. Of course, it depends on Nadal, which prove again and again that his best in RG, is un matched.


Hippy Chick Says:

Well thats that then i suppose?….


chris ford1 Says:

Like the pic of “bad to the bone” Nole with a biker club. I’m guessing in Serbia from the gas tank colors. Don’t think he rides, but he has a curious like for tractors. When he was 8-11, he was driving a full size tractor around removing snow.

A triple double would be great, though both IW and Miami are suited to Djokovic’s game and the difficulty is not as high as Rafa getting two RG-Wimbledon doubles or certainly Borgs 5 straight.


Kimberly Says:

My son Colin got “the autograph” today. We knew someone big was coming because they suddenly barricade the walkway to the locker room. Them we saw uncle Toni and nadal physio coming so we knew. We had Toni sign and them a few minutes later rafa came and he signed my sons ball! I snapped a close up of each!

We also watched kokkinakus Berloq, sock v soeda, azarenka only a little because my husband can’t stand her, almagro stakhovsky, smyczek. We watched gulbis and dolgopolov practice as well as Ferrer, Murray was practicing with mueller today, troicki with monfils, isner with Johnson. Got autographs from Ferrer, Mayer, nadal and Toni, isner and gimelstob, kuznetsova, sock, giraldo. Kokkinakus has a great backhand, and was the better player but just had a super slow start to third and then was too little late after that.


Okiegal Says:

@Kimberly……You’ve been a busy girl today! Sounds like you are having a great time. Pea green with envy over your autographed ball from the KOC. You’re rockin it girl!!


jane Says:

good job kimberly; glad to know you got an autograph from your favourite.


danica Says:

Jane, thanks a bunch for sharing Yolita’s post from that other site. Nice to see Nole’s dominance and proof that the last few year really were/are Nole’s Era.


jane Says:

danica, you’re welcome! what amazed me most were the win-loss percentages, and the top ten stats in particular. look at top ten wins. that’s quite the difference. these numbers you don’t see that often. yolita’s a wiz. i only read at tennis.com, but i always look out for her posts. :)


danica Says:

Me too! You can always count on her arguments and valid points.

I knew about Nole’s results against the top 10 but his H2H with his fiercest rivals is what quite pleased me :).

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