2013 ATP Miami Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Fresh off of Indian Wells, the ATP tour will feature yet another hard court masters event in the sun which will feature a very similar field, excluding a few big names who elected to skip the event such as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Sony Open Tennis
ATP Masters 1000
March 18-31, 2013
Prize money: $4,169,090
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Andy Murray
3: David Ferrer
4: Tomas Berdych
5: Juan Martin Del Potro
6: Jo Wilfried Tsonga
7: Janko Tipsarevic
8: Richard Gasquet
The top 32 seeds all get first round byes and the top 16 seeds are all part of the ATP top 19.
First round matchups to watch:
Jurgen Melzer vs. Ricardas Berankis
Melzer comes off a confidence-boosting victory at the Dallas Challenger, but he put in a lot of roadwork to win it. Berankis is of course talented and close to a career high ranking, but his results have been up and down. If Berankis shows up in good form, he should win this one.
Ryan Harrison vs. (wc) James Blake
Harrison did manage to break his losing streak and win a match last week in Indian Wells but he has still had a miserable year and is close to dropping out of the top 90. Now he will play the confident veteran Blake, who has beaten him twice before, including last year in Atlanta on hard courts. Blake is 13 years older than Harrison and they are just 7 places apart in the rankings these days, and this match should be interesting for fans of American tennis.
(wc) Christian Harrison vs. Thomaz Bellucci
Christian Harrison, aka “Little Harry”, got a wild card and will play his first ATP level match against Thomaz Bellucci who has lost 5 straight matches and is really playing poorly right now. Harrison last pushed Ernests Gulbis to 3 sets in Indian Wells qualifying, and he plays a lot like his older brother. Really, this match is made for an upset and Christian has a great chance to generate an underdog storyline this week in Miami.
Novak Djokovic will seek to recover from the shock semis loss in Indian Wells and win his 3rd straight Miami title opening against Gilles Muller or Lukas Rosol. Afterward, he could play an inconsistent Feliciano Lopez, Somdev Devvarman, or Evgeny Donskoy, who showed his promising talent by pushing Andy Murray to 3 sets last week in Indian Wells.
Down the draw in the round of 16, Djokovic could meet Tommy Haas (who made the IW 4th round and will play Leo Mayer or Igor Sijsling) in what would be their 3rd meeting this year. Haas could then face Nikolay Davydenko, Paolo Lorenzi or a struggling Alex Dogopolov, the 19 seed.
7 seed Janko Tipsarevic who is in an absolutely brutal slump now, seemingly not able to even to take a set off anyone much less win a match, will play Marinko Matosevic or a qualifier. Thereafter, Matosevic should meet IW quarterfinalist Kevin Anderson, who is playing well and opens with Horacio Zeballos or a qualifier.
Anderson could play Gilles Simon in an IW rematch (a match he won) if Simon can beat Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt showed great fight in Indian Wells to knock off John Isner or Joao Sousa and then Grega Zemlja/Roberto Bautista-Agut/Florian Mayer.
3 seed David Ferrer, who is also on a surprising cold streak right now, will play a qualifier, then Fabio Fognini, Benoit Paire or Michael Llodra. Paire comes off a tough 3rd round IW loss to Gilles Simon but otherwise played well.
Kei Nishikori may or may not still be dealing with injury/fitness issues that have plagued him in the past and this year will play Andrey Kuznetsov/Victor Hanescu before meeting Xaiver Malisse, a qualifier or Jeremy Chardy. Chardy comes off a bad loss to Bjorn Phau in IW and if Nishikori is even at 70% of his peak, he ought to be able to win a few rounds given this easy draw.
Last but most certainly not least in the top half, the Argentine warrior Juan Martin Del Potro will seek to recover quickly from his tough play in IW and will play Blaz Kavcic/Tobias Kamke. He would then play the Berankis/Melzer winner if that winner beats Marcel Granollers.
The 3rd round winner could play Blake/Harrison, Julian Benneteau, Albert Ramos, a qualifier, or perhaps least likely, an abysmally slumping Juan Monaco, who also can’t seem to win a match.
Andy Murray was a finalist last year and will start off with a qualifier or Bernard Tomic, who lost in the 2nd round of IW to Richard Gasquet. That could potentially be a tough match for Muzzer, but regardless I expect him to advance and most likely get a Brisbane final rematch with Grigor Dimitrov if Dimitrov can beat Simone Bolelli/Jesse Levine. Grisha Dimitrov has not been blessed with good draws recently.
Murray then could face Jerzy Janowicz for the first time since JJ shocked him at the Paris masters if Janowicz beats the Bellucci/Harrison winner and then Andreas Seppi/Benjamin Becker/Aljaz Bedene. Janowicz comes off a 3rd round showing in IW.
Jo Wilfried Tsonga opens against Pablo Andujar or Viktor Troicki and then could play Jarkko Nieminen, David Nalbandian or a somewhat struggling Martin Klizan. Klizan did have that shock win over Tsonga at the US Open. Tsonga should cruise into a meeting with Marin Cilic if Cilic can beat Rhyne Williams/Santiago Giraldo and then either Ivan Dodig, who opens with a struggling Lukas Lacko, or John Isner, who also continues to struggle. Isner just lost his status as the top ranked American after an opening round loss in Indian Wells. Dodig/Cilic would be a Memphis rematch that Cilic won in 3 sets.
Tomas Berdych will play Dani Gimeno-Traver or Denis Istomin, who might give him trouble, and then could play Alejandro Falla, Go Soeda, or a struggling Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco won just a single game in his first round IW match against Jarkko Nieminen in one of the blowout matches of the year.
Berdych could meet Milos Raonic in the 4th round if Raonic beats a qualifier and the new top ranked American Sam Querrey, who he bested in San Jose this year. Querrey opens with Lukasz Kubot or a qualifier.
Richard Gasquet will play Tatsuma Ito or a qualifier before hitting Mikhail Youzhny, Rendy Lu or a qualifier and possibly Nicolas Almagro, who actually has a 3-1 H2H record against him. Almagro will play the streaking Carlos Berlocq or Guido Pella and then David Goffin/Robin Haase/Phillip Kohlschreiber. This is an easy draw for Almagro given the form of those players, excluding the warlocq Berlocq.
Dark Horses: Ricardas Berankis, Benoit Paire, Evgeny Donskoy, Marin Cilic
The quad picked this time are a potpourri of players with various levels of success to be expected from them. Berankis will have the advantage of playing a tired Melzer, then a struggling Granollers and possibly a tired Del Potro. He wouldn’t be the favorite against Del Po, but an upset can’t be out of the question after that the draw really opens up into the quarters and possibly the semis.
Paire is also talented and if he can beat Llodra and Fognini, then catch Ferrer still in a slump of poor play he could shock the Spaniard. It isn’t likely but if he does so, the draw really opens up as the most likely opponent after that would be Nishikori, who isn’t in good shape right now from what I can tell. Media Advisory: Paire v. Berankis could be an actual quarterfinal match at a Masters event.
Donskoy showed skill to hang in there with Andy Murray and took a set off him. Though he faded late, in many ways he is the next breakthrough star in Russian tennis, part of their new generation of players who will take over for the old guard. If he beats Devvarman and Lopez he would get Djokovic. Again, he would be a huge underdog, as most anyone would against the world number 1, but Djokovic showed fatigue in Indian Wells and you never know if you might catch him on a bad day.
Cilic, meanwhile, simply has a good draw with Williams/Giraldo and then Dodig/Isner, both of whom he should be favored against. In the 3rd round, he should hit Tsonga, who got shellacked by Djokovic in IW and may still be down from that. Cilic and Tsonga have split H2H meetings. If he gets past Tsonga, I would expect him to play Murray (though you never know with Janowicz, Tomic and Dimitrov lurking all reasonable dark horses in their own right) and again if Murray has a down day, Cilic could capitalize.
Djokovic d. Haas
Anderson d. Simon
Paire d. Nishikori
Del Potro d. Benneteau
Gasquet d. Almagro
Berdych d. Raonic
Cilic d. Tsonga
Murray d. Janowicz
Anderson should beat Simon again, Del Po has an easy matchup, Gasquet should knock off Almagro, Berdych should overpower Raonic and Murray should beat JJ.
Djokovic d. Anderson
Del Potro d. Paire
Berdych d. Gasquet
Murray d. Cilic
Djokovic should win again, Del Po should be good enough to beat Paire, Berdych just easily beat Gasquet in IW and Murray will hopefully have enough to beat Cilic.
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Berdych d. Murray
I’ll take Djokovic to avenge his loss to Del Potro, and Berdych seems better than Murray right now.
Djokovic d. Berdych
This would be a blockbuster final and Berdych will have a serious chance to win it, but I still have to stick with the trusty Djokovic to take the title. Not to mention, Djokovic has consistently beaten the Czech number 1.