32 year old John Isner had struggled his way through 2018 with just one match win, but in Miami he turned it on, winning six straight to capture the biggest ATP title of his career. A long time battler on the ATP Tour, Isner will return to the top 10 after dispatching Alexander Zverev 6-7 6-4 6-4 in the final, preventing Zverev from taking a third career Masters title.
Isner heated up with early wins against Jiri Vesely, and Mikhail Youzhny, then upset Marin Cilic, Hyeon Chung, and Juan Martin Del Potro in consecutive matches to reach the final. His last three wins prior to the final dominant performances. Zverev ran through a tough road of Daniil Medvedev, David Ferrer, Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric, and Pablo Carreno Busta, posting a solid week despite a tough finals loss.
With the ATP season switching to clay, Zverev should have more success ahead, while Isner is unlikely to make much of a dent in big events until the hard court Summer, but he’ll still have the memory of the biggest result in his career coming in 2018.
Top seed Roger Federer was upset by Thanasi Kokkinakis early on, as Kokkinakis played up to his potential and got past a fatigued Federer in three sets, never backing down.
The Bryan brothers took the doubles title defeating Russia’s Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev in the doubles final for their 37th Masters 1000 title.
2018 ATP Miami Preview and Predictions: Are We Headed for Another Federer vs. Del Potro Final? Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The second Masters 1000 stop of the season is on the sun baked hard courts of Miami, a joint event with the WTA. Will Roger Federer surge back from defeat at the Indian Wells final to defend his Miami title? or will a new Masters 1000 champion emerge from the field. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
After losing his first match of 2018 in Indian Wells, defending champion Roger Federer will face Thanasi Kokkinakis or Calvin Hemery in the second round. Fernando Verdasco or Tennys Sandgren/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez await in round 3. Verdasco isn’t playing poorly but unless Federer has a back injury he should reach the fourth round. Pablo Carreno Busta played well enough in Indian Wells to ease past Denis Istomin/Miomir Kecmanovic and then Adrian Mannarino or Steve Johnson/Victor Estrella in round 3.
Kevin Anderson and Tomas Berdych should face off in the round of 16. Anderson’s path is Nikoloz Basilashvili/Thomas Fabbiano, then Karen Khachanov or Marius Copil/Mikhail Kukushkin. Berdych will need to watch out for Alex De Minaur and Frances Tiafoe/Kyle Edmund (or Nicolas Kicker) in his first two matches but I’ll still make him the favorite to reach round 4.
I’ll back Daniil Medvedev to have a good tournament, defeating young guns Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev in consecutive contests. David Ferrer will face Evgeny Donskoy/Aljaz Bedene before facing Medvedev or Zverev in round 3. I’ll go with Medvedev to survive a challenging section.
Nick Kyrgios is back and should find his way against Dusan Lajovic/Horacio Zeballos before defeating Fabio Fognini in round 3. Fognini needs only to defeat Nicola Kuhn/Darian King in the second round.
Jack Sock takes on Yuki Bhambri or Mirza Basic then faces IW semifinalist Borna Coric in round 3, presuming Coric beats Donald Young/Leonardo Mayer. With Sock very shaky I’ll go with Coric to survive into round 4.
Opportunity awaits for either Sam Querrey or Denis Shapovalov, Shapovalov opens with Viktor Troicki then faces Damir Dzumhur. Querrey will take on Radu Albot/Ricardas Berankis. On Hard Courts in the States I’ll give the veteran Querrey a narrow edge to reach round 4.
Dark Horses should suprise in the Dimitrov section. Marton Fucsovics is a rising talent and after putting away Max Marterer, I’ll take him in an upset against a struggling Dimitrov. Richard Gasquet is struggling as well, and countryman Jeremy Chardy should defeat him after defeating Rogerio Dutra Silva. I’ll go with Chardy into round 4.
A semifinalist in Indian Wells, Milos Raonic looks to be finding form again. He will take on J.L. Struff or Mikael Ymer in round 2, Diego Schwartzman or Nicolas Jarry/Cam Norrie will follow. I’ll go with Raonic over Schwartzman to reach round 4.
Novak Djokovic struggled in Indian Wells, but if he can rebuild his confidence a bit he should defeat Mischa Zverev/Benoit Paire to reach the third round. His Serbian countryman Filip Krajinovic awaits in round 3. Krajinovic faces Bjorn Fratangelo/Liam Broady for a spot in round 3. Djokovic is the favorite in his section but anything could happen.
IW champ Juan Martin Del Potro will face Yuichi Sugita or Robin Haase. Peter Gojowczyk/John Millman will face Kei Nishikori in round 2. A healthy Nishikori should reach round 3, but I’m not sure he troubles Del Potro unless the Argentine is out of gas.
Marin Cilic could be in for a tough match against Taylor Fritz (or Pierre-Hugues Herbert) in round 2, but he should be favored in that match, and against Andrey Rublev. Rublev faces Ivo Karlovic/Vasek Pospisil for a spot in round 3.
John Isner is struggling, but he should defeat Jiri Vesely/Lukas Lacko before facing Gilles Muller in round 3. Muller’s path to that point is getting past either Guido Pella or Mikhail Youzhny. I’ll give Muller a slight edge over a struggling Isner, though Isner could find form here.
Roberto Bautista Agut takes on Chris Eubanks or Michael Mmoh, a tougher test against Hyeon Chung awaits in round 3. I’ll go with Chung to beat Gilles Simon/Matt Ebden, and then RBA to reach round 4 in an upset.
David Goffin takes on Joao Sousa/Ryan Harrison, I have him facing Jared Donaldson in round 3 after Donaldson defeats fan favorite Marcos Baghdatis and Feliciano Lopez. Goffin is my favorite against Donaldson.
Round of 16 Federer d. Carreno Busta
Anderson d. Berdych
Medvedev d. Kyrgios
Coric d. Querrey
Del Potro d. Djokovic
Raonic d. Chardy
Chung d. Goffin
Cilic d. Muller
The matches in the bottom half look more competitive than the top half, I’ll back Medvedev, Coric, Del Potro, and Chung by narrow margins in their matchups.
Withdrawn from @VolvoCarOpen, @JoKonta91 Reflects on @MiamiOpen Win and Future Plans Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Jo Konta withdrew from the Volvo Car Open due to a right shoulder injury sustained during her run to the title at the Miami Open last week. The 25-year-old from Eastbourne reached a new career high ranking of #7. Konta was kind enough to meet with the press following the announcement. She did not commit to a return date on the tour.
Jo Konta (Tennis Atlantic)
Two years ago, Konta was playing tennis in the South. ITF Tennis, that it is, marching through Pelham and Dothan, a long way from the green clay of this premier level event.
“On paper, it may look a little overnight success, but it’s been many, many years,” she said about her career trajectory. “It wasn’t a light-bulb moment. That was one of the best trips I had in terms of personal growth and self-awareness on how I wanted to be on-court and how I wanted to be off-court.”
Jo Konta (Tennis Atlantic)
“I’m really sad I’m not playing here,” she said. “Ever since I knew I was coming to the event last year, I was so looking forward to coming to this tournament. I’d been here once previously many, many years ago, and my dad really, really wanted to come here as well. He’s always wanted to visit the South in the US and he hasn’t been able to yet, so I think next time when I come back, one, I would really love to be playing and two, I think it will be a family affair.”
On court on Monday, former Charleston champions Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic advanced, and Alison Riske defeated Kayla Day in an all-American first round match. Play was suspended due to rain and will resume at 10:00 a.m.
VOLVO CAR OPEN – CHARLESTON, SC, USA
APRIL 3 – 9, 2017
RESULTS – APRIL 03, 2017
Singles – First Round
M. Puig (PUR) d  K. Siniakova (CZE) 46 62 41 Retired ( Low Back Injury )
N. Osaka (JPN) d J. Larsson (SWE) 67(4) 64 62
K. Bondarenko (UKR) d E. Rodina (RUS) 64 75
J. Ostapenko (LAT) d [Q] A. Bogdan (ROU) 64 62
A. Petkovic (GER) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) 75 62
[LL] O. Jabeur (TUN) d M. Erakovic (NZL) 64 61
L. Siegemund (GER) d L. Tsurenko (UKR) 67(6) 62 76(4)
J. Jankovic (SRB) d E. Alexandrova (RUS) 60 64
A. Riske (USA) d [WC] K. Day (USA) 75 46 60
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, APRIL 04, 2017
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
M. Sakkari (GRE) vs  L. Davis (USA)
Not Before 12:00 noon
[Q] V. Cepede Royg (PAR) vs S. Rogers (USA) 31 To finish
[Q] S. Kenin (USA) vs [WC] B. Mattek-Sands (USA)
 L. Safarova (CZE) vs V. Lepchenko (USA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 S. Stosur (AUS) vs J. Jankovic (SRB)
 H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) vs A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE)
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
J. Brady (USA) vs M. Barthel (GER)
Not Before 12:00 noon
Y. Duan (CHN) vs [Q] A. Rodionova (AUS)
 M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs [Q] A. Krunic (SRB)
[LL] G. Min (USA) vs S. Errani (ITA)
L. Chirico (USA) vs A. Beck (GER)
COURT 3 start 10:00 am
M. Linette (POL) vs  Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
Not Before 12:00 noon
[Q] A. Muhammad (USA) vs [Q] F. Stollar (HUN)
C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs  I. Begu (ROU)
M. Doi (JPN) vs  S. Zhang (CHN)
R. Atawo (USA) / J. Ostapenko (LAT) vs I. Begu (ROU) / L. Siegemund (GER)
COURT 4 start 10:00 am
D. Kasatkina (RUS) vs D. Kovinic (MNE)
Not Before 12:00 noon
K. Kucova (SVK) vs [Q] S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 57 75 22 To finish
After Suitable Rest – J. Brady (USA) / A. Riske (USA) vs L. Davis (USA) / S. Rogers (USA)
After Suitable Rest – A. Muhammad (USA) / T. Townsend (USA) vs D. Jurak (CRO) / A. Rodionova (AUS)
Roger Federer Completes 2017 Sunshine Double with Title in Miami Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Roger Federer completed the Sunshine double, improving to #4 in the world and continuing his dominance in 2017 with a 6-3 6-4 victory, his third straight, over Rafael Nadal in the Miami Open final. Federer, now 35, has turned back the clock and is the ATP’s best player right now, with few signs that any other player on tour can stop him at the moment. Nick Kyrgios and Tomas Berdych both came close, pushing the Swiss maestro to a third set tiebreak, and prior to that Roberto Bautista Agut lost two respectable tiebreaks. All of that said, in the end Federer mixed skill and experience to pull ahead and secure a twelve match winning streak that is still ongoing heading into the clay court season. Federer has finished the first quarter of the year with a 19-1 record and three titles. He also claimed early wins against Juan Martin Del Potro and Frances Tiafoe in Miami.
Nadal has also experienced a great resurgence the season, his battles with Federer continue to be the stuff of legends and he’s now 19-5 on the season, despite not yet having a title of his own. His best surface, clay, awaits after wins on the trot against Dudi Sela, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Nicolas Mahut, Jack Sock, and surprise semifinalist Fabio Fognini. Only against Kohlschreiber did Rafa drop a set prior to the final and he’s suffered just one truly shocking loss this season, a season that has seem him take part in three finals.
Veterans Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo eased past Nick Monroe and Jack Sock in the doubles final.
2017 ATP Miami Preview and Predictions from R32 Onwards Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Two rounds of the 2017 ATP Masters 1000 in Miami are in the books, the top 5 players in the draw remain, but with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic notably absent due to injury, we could see a new winner in Miami. Here is a look at the remaining rounds of the tournament.
Miami Open presented by Itau
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Miami, FL, USA
March 22-April 2, 2017
Prize Money: $6,993,450
Last week’s Indian Wells finalist Stan Wawrinka got the top seed spot in Miami and posted a routine win over Horacio Zeballos in round 2, with Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri up next. Jaziri is in-form, having won five of his last six matches, but Wawrinka has been a consistent performer this season and should overpower his rival shotmaker. John Isner has been struggling, but he did pick up a round 2 win over Thomaz Bellucci. With the young gun Alexander Zverev opposite him in round 3, it should be Zverev picking up the win (after defeating Rendy Lu in round 2), to face off with Wawrinka in the round of 16. Wawrinka will be the favorite in that one.
Nick Kyrgios continued his good form from Indian Wells, the Aussie picked up a win against Damir Dzumhur, and now has to face Ivo Karlovic, who was a winner over Andrey Kuznetsov round 2. Karlovic’s big serve is dangerous, but Kyrgios should be able to string together comfortable holds and win tiebreaks to reach the fourth round. David Goffin’s draw opened up after Diego Schwartzman scored wins over Karen Khachanov and David Ferrer, Goffin looks set to beat the Argentine before falling to Kyrgios.
Sam Querrey will have a winnable match against another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, after defeating Tommy Robredo in round 2. The American is a solid competitor, but RBA, who beat Mikhail Kukushkin round 2, should be the favorite. IW champion Roger Federer put away Frances Tiafoe, while Juan Martin Del Potro ended Robin Haase’s run to setup a huge third round clash. Del Potro has the ability to defeat Federer, but Federer remains extremely formidable right now and should prevail to face Querrey/RBA.
Tomas Berdych has been struggling all year, but a win over Andrey Rublev has setup a winnable contest with Gilles Muller for him in round 3, after Muller defeated Andreas Seppi. Berdych should make an even deeper run as long as he beat Borna Coric or Adrian Mannarino. This section opened up after Coric took top 10 player Dominic Thiem to the woodshed, playing his best tennis since coming back from injury, and again putting himself on the young gun radar. Federer or Del Potro are heavy favorites in this section.
Kei Nishikori badly needs a strong result in this tournament as the #2 seed, the Japanese #1 will face Fernando Verdasco after Verdasco defeated Ernesto Escobedo, and Nishikori eased past Kevin Anderson. In round 4 it will be J.L. Struff or Federico Delbonis, a surprising pair who face off in round 3 after Struff upset Gilles Simon and Delbonis upset IW semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta. Struff mentally struggles at times, and it should be Nishikori over Delbonis for a spot in the quarterfinals.
One of Jeremy Chardy, Fabio Fognini, Benoit Paire, and Donald Young will be a Masters quarterfinalist after Chardy upset a struggling Marin Cilic, Fognini beat Joao Sousa, Paire defeated Pablo Cuevas, and Young upset Lucas Pouille. Paire and Chardy are slight favorites to advance, with Paire my pick to make the quarterfinals. He has the talent, but has lacked focus.
After Milos Raonic defeated Viktor Troicki in round 2, he looks set for a big clash with Jack Sock, as long as Sock beats Jiri Vesely, and Raonic beats American Jared Donaldson. Sock reached the semis in IW and is in-form, while Raonic is still just returning from injury and has rust, making Sock the favorite.
Rafael Nadal has a clear path to the quarterfinals, he dispatched Dudi Sela, should do the same against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who barely survived Taylor Fritz, neither Nicolas Mahut, who upset Steve Johnson in round 2, or Guido Pella, who stunned Grigor Dimitrov after narrowly defeating Tim Smyczek, is formidable, and Nadal should be able to win out and make a run.
Wawrinka d. Kyrgios
Federer d. Berdych
Nadal d. Sock
Nishikori d. Paire
Kyrgios at his best can beat a player of Wawrinka’s caliber, but Stan is more consistent. Federer and Nadal have relatively clear paths, and Nishikori should be in the semis with his draw.
Despite the opportunity for a new pair of finalists, a Federer vs. Nadal final makes sense. Nadal has never won in Miami, while Federer last won it over ten years ago.
Final Federer d. Nadal
Federer proved he has cracked Nadal’s code after two straight wins on hard courts against his Spanish rival this year. Nadal is much improved from last year, but Federer is on an even higher level and has everything to play for.
The Premier Mandatory double reaches its second leg in Miami this week, with Elena Vesnina entering as the Indian Wells champion. Can the Russian do it again?
Serena Williams’ withdrawal means Angelique Kerber will keep her number one ranking despite not being in the best of form. The German is still searching for her first title of the season in Miami, and could face one of the players that has gotten the better of her thus far in the third round. Daria Kastakina has landed in Kerber’s section once again. Can the top seed get her revenge? If she can get past the Russian, then it is hard to see the German losing in round four. It is likely either Kiki Bertens or an out of sorts Carla Suarez Navarro in waiting.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisAtlantic.com)
Svetlana Kuzenstova will enter Miami in good form after making the final of Indian Wells last week. The Russian Is set to meet Roberta Vinci in the third round, but has a tough test in a confident Kristyna Pliskova in the second round. It is hard to look past Kuznetsova making the fourth round where she is projected to meet Venus Williams. The three time champion could end up with a tough third round against the in-form Kristina Mladenovic. Kuznetsova will be favourite however, and given Kerber’s so-so form, I see the Russian progressing to the last four again.
Prediction: Kuznetsova def. Kerber
Simona Halep’s 2017 has been a non-starter due to poor form and injury woes. Can she kick start her season properly in Miami? The Romanian could face rising youngster Naomi Osaka in what could be a testing second round match. Ekaterina Makarova is projected for round three. Sam Stosur is the seeded fourth round opponent, but the Aussie has a tough draw ahead with Eugenie Bouchard or Ashleigh Barty in round two, then possibly Caroline Garcia in round four. This is a wide open section with the potential of a surprise quarter finalist.
Madison Keys will look back positively on her Indian Wells run given it was her first tournament on the year. The American will look to go even further in Miami where she likely kicks her tournament off against Tsvetana Pironkova. Irina Begu is the first seeded opponent, so it looks like a good draw for Keys to make the fourth round, but there is when it gets interesting. Johanna Konta voiced her disappointment after her loss to Garcia in Indian Wells and aims to be in better form for Miami. The Brit could meet another Frenchwoman in round two in Alize Cornet. Timea Babos is the projected third round opponent before an interesting clash with Madison Keys. The American’s form is still unknown at this point so I am predicting Konta to make it out of this match and out of the quarter.
Prediction: Konta def. Halep
There were positive signs for Garbine Muguruza in Indian Wells. She showed more aggression and despite another loss to Karolina Pliskova, she came out of the tournament with a positive mind set. The Spaniard has some tough players in her section such as Christina McHale, Belina Bencic and Shuai Zhang, but if Muguruza can play her best tennis then she will be favourite to advance. Where it could get interesting is against Caroline Wozniacki in round four. The Dane is not a given to make it to the last 16 with players such as Monica Puig and Anastasija Sevastova in her section, but a match against Muguruza in round four will be an enticing affair.
Fourth seeded Dominika Cibulkova will look at Miami as a chance for another big title, but she has a tough draw ahead if she is to do so. Whilst Misaki Doi should not be much of a problem, highly touted youngster Ana Konjuh could be in the third round. Indian wells champion Elena Vesnina has also ended up in this section of the draw. The Russian herself could have a difficult third round match against Lucie Safarova or Daria Gavrilova. Vesnina’s confidence will be sky high after winning the Indian Wells title, but will it be enough to get past Cibulkova? I believe the winner of this will make the quarter finals with Muguruza’s indifferent form.
Prediction: Cibulkova def. Muguruza
Karolina Pliskova is once again one of the tournament favourites heading into Miami. The Czech will open against Jelena Ostapenko in round two then face Yulia Putintiseva in the third round which is a decent draw for Pliskova to the last 16. There she could be in for an all Czech battle against Barbora Strycova, but the 15th seed could find herself being overpowered by Coco Vandeweghe in the third round.
Agnieszka Radwanska’s season has been less than stellar, but she is the latest person to win the event in the draw. Can she do it again? The Pole has a good second round draw, but her third round opponent is the ever dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Based on form, Elina Svitolina may be the one to make it to the quarter finals. The Ukrainian has some tough matches ahead against the likes of Katerina Siniakova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but she should make the fourth round against Radwanska. I feel Svirolina will beat the out of form fifth seed, but will find Pliskova too much in the quarter finals
Six of Novak Djokovic’s record 28 Masters titles have come in Miami now, as the Serbian superstar and world #1 deftly handled Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-3 in just an hour and a half of tennis. The title also means that he’s completed the Indian Wells+Miami “double”, for the third year in a row. Novak continues to dominate men’s tennis, and has been unstoppable early this season, without a loss when in full health (27-0 with 1 retirement and four titles).
Kei Nishikori gave it his best shot in his second career Masters final, and his ninth meeting against Djokovic. The Japanese #1 is now 0-5 against Djokovic since stunning him to reach the 2014 US Open final. Nishikori was not one of the tournament favorites going in, but he surprisingly handled the Miami spring heat well to earn wins over Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and Nick Kyrgios, dropping just a set to Monfils, where he was pushed to a third set tiebreak. Nishikori’s serve was the big liability for him, as Djokovic found a way to return well enough for the easy win.
Kyrgios has now made the semifinals or better in three ATP tournaments this season. The Aussie reached his first Masters semi with wins over Milos Raonic and Andrey Kuznetsov most notably. Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal all went home early due to some combination of illness, or poor play, as the Miami bottom half was left rather barren.
Djokovic beat Kyle Edmund, Joao Sousa, Dominic Thiem, Tomas Berdych, and David Goffin without dropping a set, or so much as being threatened this week, as even Goffin’s efforts were not enough. The Belgian took advantage of Federer’s absence to defeat Gilles Simon and reach the semifinals for the second week in a row (also did so in Indian Wells).
Like Djokovic, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut completed the Masters double, capturing the Miami title, after doing so in Indian Wells. The French team is playing remarkably well at the moment and beat Rajeev Ram and Raven Klaasen to take the title.
The ATP now heads to clay, and the big question is, can anyone stop Djokovic on his “worst” surface? or will the world #1 continue his unblemished play.
2016 WTA Miami Preview, Predictions Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
It’s the second of the back to back Premier events in America as the WTA tour hits Florida for the Miami Open.
Serena Williams holds the record with eight Miami titles to her name. Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, five-time champ Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Monica Seles and Venus Williams also have multiple Miami Open titles.
Tier: Premier Mandatory
Location: Miami, USA
Prize money: $6,134,605
Date: March 22- April 03
Top Eight Seeds (ranking)
Serena Williams (1)
Angelique Kerber (2)
Agnieszka Radwanksa (3)
Garbine Muguruza (4)
Simona Halep (5)
Carla Suarez Navarro (6)
Belinda Bencic (8)
Petra Kvitova (9)
The big absentee is Maria Sharapova who recently was caught taking a banned substance.
Robson’s comeback after years of injury problems is still on going. The Brit received a wildcard into Miami where she will play tricky Belgian Flipkens in the opening round.
They have only met once before at the Australian Open in 2014 where Robson’s injury problems started. The Brit lost 6-3, 6-0 that day in Melbourne and will be hoping to avoid similar embarrassment this week.
The match-up is interesting because it will be an indicator of Robson’s level post injury. It is unlikely the Brit wins this match but still one to watch.
Talented young Russian, Gasparyan, will pit her tennis skills against Beck in an interesting first round contest.
Gasparyan is quickly rising up the ranks with her powerful game and signature one handed backhand. The Russian is one player to keep an eye on over the course of the season, but Beck provides a consistent challenge from the baseline.
It is a match where Gasparyan can show her talent, but it is also a match where she could easily falter.
The world number one was thwarted at the final hurdle by Victoria Azarenka in Indian Wells but moves on to a tournament which suits her more. The eight time winner is a huge favourite despite failing to capture a title in 2016 thus far. Williams will likely face compatriot Christina McHale in her opening match. Daria Gavrilova will give a feisty challenge in round three, but Williams should have no problem disposing of the Aussie and the winner of Andrea Petkovic vs Svetlana Kuznetsova in round four. Petkovic could have a tough match against Caroline Garcia or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni but the former has been struggling with injury issues. Kuznetsova may meet Carina Witthoeft in the second round
Kvitova has not had the best start to 2016 and will be looking to find a bit of form in Miami. The Czech has a big game but the slow courts here might negate some of that power. The eighth seed could have problems with fellow leftie Ekaterina Makarova in round three if the Russian is in good form. We should get an indicator in the second round where she meets Alexandra Dulgheru or Lesia Tsurenko. The fourth round will likely be against Elina Svitolina or Caroline Wozniacki, who both provide a more consistent test than Makarova, though not as dangerous. Svitolina’s biggest test before Wozniacki is against Shuai Zhang, while Wozniacki will probably face Vania King.
Radwanska might be the title favourite behind Serena, so she was certainly disappointed to be drawn in the same half as the world number one. The Pole is projected to play the struggling Anna Schmiedlova in the third round but that could easily be Madison Brengle or Camila Giorgi. Former world number one Ana Ivanovic has landed in this quarter as the 16th seed and could have a intriguing match in round three against Timea Bacsinszky. The Swiss herself though has a difficult second round against rising Gasparyan.
Halep is another player who has struggled to hit top form in 2016, and will be looking to use this tournament as a season launching pad. Daria Kasatkina, who played well in Indian Wells, is a possible round two opponent for the former world number two. Sam Stosur is possible for round three which is always a tough match despite the Aussie being past her best. Stosur herself could be bumped out easily by Julia Goerges in the second round. Lucie Safarova, who is only playing her second match since coming back from injury, is a potential fourth round opponent for Halep. But the Czech could be rusty and could struggle to get past Sloane Stephens. British interest will be in Heather Watson, a wildcard in the tournament. She meets Petra Cetkovska in the first round and potentially Stephens in round two.
Speaking of struggling, Muguruza is in the middle of a slump after a breakthrough 2015. The Spaniard has been unable to find her game and her attitude has been somewhat negative. Dominika Cibulkova could be a difficult round two draw, and if she gets through that it’s possibly Kristina Mladenovic in round three- a tough one for the 2015 Wimbledon runner up. Victoria Azarenka will be the favourite to make it out of this section after claiming the Indian Wells title last week. The Belarusian could face Jelena Jankovic in round three. Azarenka may face Monica Puig in round two, while Jankovic could meet Bethanie Mattek Sands.
Carla Suarez Navarro has a fairly tough draw to the quarter finals. The Spaniard could face Coco Vandeweghe in round two, then a tough potential third round match against the unorthodox Monica Niculescu. Joanna Konta will spark British interest as the 24th seed, and could meet Venus Williams for an Australian Open rematch in the third round. Venus will play a qualifier in the second round whilst Konta will face Denisa Allertova or Danka Kovinic.
Kerber has suffered a post-Grand Slam winning hangover since the Australian Open and will be looking to rediscover that form in Miami. The German could have a tough round two with Barbora Strycova, provided the Czech has recovered from injury. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the projected seed in round three. Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani will look to take advantage of any mishaps from the second seed and their round three could provide a nice stylistic contrast. Errani faces talented Japanese youngster Naomi Osaka in the second round, so could be a potential upset there.
Belinda Bencic has been dealt with a difficult draw of her own. The Swiss star has a fairly easy round two, but then could face the the enigmatic Sabine Lisicki in round three. Roberta Vinci or Madison Keys in round four is not a good draw for Bencic either. Vinci could meet Eugenie Bouchard in the second round while Keys meets the winner of Robson vs Flipkens.
Serena def. Wozniacki
Radwanska def. Halep
Azarenka def. Suarez Navarro
Pliskova def. Vinci
Serena def. Radwanska
Azarenka def. Pliskova
Serena def. Azarenka
It is hard to see where either Azarenka or Serena lose before the final. This time however, Serena will come out on top in one of her best tournaments.
2016 ATP Miami Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The second Masters tournament of the season starts today in Miami as the ATP World Tour follows the sun and the world’s best players will bask in the beautiful South Florida weather this time of year.
Miami Open presented by Itau
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Miami, FL, USA
March 23-April 3, 2016
Prize Money: $6,134,605
Top 8 seeds (top 32 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Andy Murray (2)
3: Roger Federer (3)
4: Stan Wawrinka (4)
5: Rafael Nadal (5)
6: Kei Nishikori (6)
7: Tomas Berdych (7)
8: David Ferrer (8)
The highest ranked players absent in Miami are Kevin Anderson and Bernard Tomic. Fabio Fognini, Ivo Karlovic, Martin Klizan, and Philipp Kohlschreiber are also notably absent.
The young Japanese player Nishioka has an ATP quarterfinal this season (Memphis), and qualified for Miami. His speed and baseline consistency has earned him two previous wins over the American Donaldson. He enters this young gun battle coming off of a semifinal in the Irving challenger and this one should be a competitive contest of potential future top 20 players.
Mikhail Youzhny vs. Ernests Gulbis
Youzhny has won three straight matches over Gulbis, after dropping three straight contests prior to that. This is their first meeting since 2014, and both players have suffered a severe decline to the fringe of the ATP level. The veteran Russian earned his first ATP win of the season after a challenger winning streak, as he won a round in Indian Wells. Gulbis has lost two straight, and has just two ATP wins this season. Both are talented, and earning ATP match wins is essential in a match like this.
Fernando Verdasco vs. Gilles Muller
Verdasco and Muller have split hard court meetings. The veteran Spaniard reached the third round in Indian Wells, while Muller has been in shaky form as of late. His serve and volley game is just 3-4 over his last seven matches. Muller should be a slight favorite, but I have Verdasco pulling this match off.
(Q)Mikhail Kukushkin vs. Brian Baker
Brian Baker will be playing his first ATP match since the Australian Open, as the veteran American continues his comeback attempt after multiple serious injuries. He’ll be a fan favorite as he puts his skills up to the test against Mikhail Kukushkin. The qualifier is a solid player and should prevail, but it’s a good form test for Baker.
Lukas Rosol vs. (Q)Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Herbert is bidding for the top 100. He qualified in both IW and Miami, reached the third round in Melbourne, and won a challenger title this year. The Frenchman is a bit of a doubles specialist, but he has singles skills. Rosol reached a challenger quarterfinal but hasn’t been in great form recently. I would not be surprised to see the Czech get upset in this match.
Five time and defending champion Novak Djokovic is bidding to overtake Rafael Nadal and become the player with the most ever ATP Masters series titles. Fresh off a victory in Indian Wells the world #1 will go up against either Kyle Edmund or Jiri Vesely. With Vesely on a three match losing streak, and Edmund unimpressive right now as well, Djokovic should cruise into round 3. The seed set to face Djokovic would be Joao Sousa, however the Portugese #1 is currently on a six match losing streak, and the big serving Canadian Vasek Pospisil should beat Diego Schwartzman, and Sousa to reach round 3.
The rising Dominic Thiem won a pair of matches in Indian Wells and he should be able to add at least one more win this spring with an opening match defeat of Sam Groth or Victor Estrella. Estrella is staring down a three match losing streak, while Groth has lost seven straight. Thiem should then get a rematch of a match in Miami last year against Feliciano Lopez. Lopez opens with the Nishioka/Donaldson winner, and won a pair of matches in IW as well. Thiem is 3-1 against Lopez but dropped his last meeting against the Spaniard. Both are in good form, but Thiem has been a cut above most players on tour this year.
#7 seed Tomas Berdych and #10 seed Richard Gasquet are on track for a quarterfinal meeting in a competitive section. Berdych will open with Rajeev Ram or Evgeny Donskoy, and is likely to face young gun Alexander Zverev in round 3. The German opens with wild card Michael Mmoh, with #31 seed Steve Johnson to follow. Zverev reached the round of 16 in IW with three wins, while Berdych earned two IW wins. Berdych won a five setter in Davis Cup action over Zverev recently, and should have an edge. The American Johnson could spoil Zverev’s success however.
Gasquet also won a pair of matches in IW, and presuming he’s healthy, he should dispatch Albert Ramos or qualifier Alejandro Gonzalez in his first match. A struggling Benoit Paire will face Youzhny/Gulbis in round 2 for the right to face Gasquet in round 3. Paire has been poor this year and could well get upset, however I have Gasquet defeating him in round 3.
Roger Federer has two Miami titles, but he hasn’t won the tournament since 2006. Federer is making his spring debut after a knee injury forced him out after the Australian Open. One of the most exciting early round matchups should be his contest against Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro will need to defeat his countryman Guido Pella who reached the third round in IW. Del Potro has played well enough in his comeback thus far, but Federer is likely to win their first meeting since the end of 2013 season. Jeremy Chardy is in Federer’s seed line, but he has lost three straight and the Verdasco/Muller winner is likely to be Federer’s third round opponent. Federer is 5-0 against Muller and 6-0 against Verdasco, thus he should advance presuming he’s not rusty.
#15 seed David Goffin is set to face #19 seed Viktor Troicki in round 3. Goffin was a surprise semifinalist in IW with wins over Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic. The Belgian is having a good season and his ballstriking should out do either Bjorn Fratangelo or Marcel Granollers, both of whom are qualifiers. Granollers won a challenger title last week, while Fratangelo took a set off Novak Djokovic in IW. Troicki has lost two matches in a row, but I don’t see him losing to young Russian Andrey Rublev who comes off a challenger quarterfinal. Rublev opens with Inigo Cervantes, a Spanish journeyman. Goffin has a pair of hard court wins over Troicki, and given his better recent form he should safely reach the quarterfinals.
#6 David Ferrer should be on upset alert against qualifier Taylor Fritz in his first match. The Spaniard is just 11-6 this season, and Fritz will be in good form after defeating Italian veteran Simone Bolelli. Fritz isn’t entirely consistent yet, but the talented young gun has the skillset needed for a marquee win. Fritz can make a deep run with wins over Ferrer, and one of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Teymuraz Gabashvili/Lucas Pouille. I have Pouille handing Gabashvili his fourth straight loss, and then upsetting a mediocre Garcia-Lopez to reach the third round. Ferrer, or the dark horse Fritz should advance from there.
#11 seed Marin Cilic and #18 seed Gilles Simon are set to face off in round 3. Cilic reached the quarterfinals in IW, while Simon is a pedestrian 6-6 this year. Cilic will face either Dennis Novikov or Dusan Lajovic first, while Simon will face Ivan Dodig or Juan Monaco. The veteran Dodig, a recent challenger semifinalist, could upset Simon, and he should beat Monaco, a loser of three straight. Simon is 4-1 against Cilic in the h2h, but given their recent form, Cilic is a clear favorite.
Two-time Miami champion and resident Andy Murray was stunned by Federico Delbonis in Indian Wells, but he’s still 9-2 on the season, and with a good record in Miami, he has a chance to have a good tournament. His first opponent will be a tough one, Borna Coric should deny Denis Istomin his first ATP win of the season again, to setup a match with Murray. Murray is 2-1 against Coric in the h2h, and he’ll be the favorite, although Borna won a pair of IW matches. Murray’s challenging draw will get no easier in round 3. He could get a rematch with Delbonis, but Delbonis would need to beat Elias Ymer and Grigor Dimitrov, who is 12-6 on the season. Dimitrov is a better hard court player and likely advances. Murray has won his last three meetings against Dimitrov, it’s a tough test, but the world #2 should prevail.
Murray has the toughest draw in the tournament, as #16 seed Gael Monfils is his likely round of 16 opponent. Monfils opens with serve and volleyer Nicolas Mahut or qualifier Tatsuma Ito, The Indian Wells quarterfinalist is 12-4 this season and should defeat Mahut/Ito and one of Pablo Cuevas/Pablo Carreno Busta/John Millman to reach the fourth round. Carreno just lost to Monfils in IW, while Cuevas is mediocre on hard courts and Millman is struggling.
Kei Nishikori and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will need to navigate challenging sections if they are going to face off in the round of 16. Nishikori will face the Rosol/Herbert winner after reaching the quarterfinals in Indian Wells. Alexandr Dolgopolov should follow in round 3 after defeating Andreas Seppi or a struggling Donald Young. Nishikori is 3-0 against Dolgopolov and in better form, thus he’s the favorite.
The IW quarterfinalist Tsonga should defeat his countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu, a recently challenger finalist, in his first match. PHM opens with a struggling Santiago Giraldo. Tsonga would then be slated to face #17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in round 3. RBA will be look to move to 17-5 this season with a win over recent challenger finalist Aljaz Bedene. Bedene opens with Roberto Carballes Baena. After two wins over RBA last season, Tsonga lost to him in Auckland this year. It should be a great match, but I give the Frenchman a slight edge to prevail.
Stan Wawrinka is 15-3 on the season, and he’s set to face Andrey Kuznetsov just a few days after defeating him in Indian Wells. The Russian first has to defeat lucky loser Rogerio Dutra Silva. Though he was somewhat unimpressive in IW, the Swiss should dispatch either Sam Querrey or Adrian Mannarino in round 3. Mannarino opens with Illya Marchenko, and has a 1-0 h2h over Querrey. The higher ranked American will likely defeat the in form Frenchman on U.S. soil however. Wawrinka is unlikely to want to face Mannarino after losing to him in Miami last year, he’s 4-1 against Querrey.
John Isner vs. Nick Kyrgios is a highly anticipated third round matchup if it takes place. Isner won a pair of matches in IW and he should be better than his countryman Tim Smyczek, or Tommy Paul in round 2. Both are qualifiers and Smyczek just beat Paul in IW. Kyrgios is likely to face Marcos Baghdatis, presuming the veteran defeats qualifier Benjamin Becker in round 1. I have Baghdatis pulling an upset over Kyrgios in their first meeting. Nick was terrible last week in an opening match IW loss, Baghdatis is well rested, and his experienced and steady attacking play may drive Kyrgios mad. Isner over Baghdatis (6-0 h2h) is my pick for the third round. The American #1 Isner is also 2-0 against Kyrgios.
IW Semifinalist Rafael Nadal, who has never won the title in Miami, will open with Leonardo Mayer or Damir Dzumhur. Mayer is 4-1 in his last five matches but he shouldn’t trouble a seemingly in-form Rafa on hard courts. Nadal should improve to 14-5 on the season with wins over Mayer and the winner of Baker/Kukushkin or Thomaz Bellucci in round 3. I have Kukushkin slipping past a struggling Bellucci before falling to Nadal.
IW finalist Milos Raonic may not be entirely healthy after a great week in IW, but a painful final drubbing. The Canadian #1 opens with either Hyeon Chung (2-0 h2h vs. Kudla) or Denis Kudla and both are credible enough on hard courts to exploit an upset chance if Raonic is wobbly. Still I have Milos serving his way into a third round match with American favorite Jack Sock. Sock opens with serve and volleyer Sergiy Stakhovsky, or wild card Nicolas Jarry in round 2. With Sock just 6-5 on the season, and just 1-6 in his career against Raonic, Milos will be a heavy favorite to reach the round of 16. Since Sock upset Raonic in Memphis back in 2013, the Canadian has won six straight matches against him.
Zverev would need to upset Berdych, but the German young gun is rising and he could go as far as the quarterfinals. Fritz needs to upset Ferrer, but he has a great chance at least the roudn of 16, and possibly the quarters as well. Sock could exploit any weakness in the Raonic section to make a run to at least the round of 16, and Coric will look for his second career win against Murray. Grigor Dimitrov and Federico Delbonis could also make noise in the Murray section, as Delbonis did last week, though Murray is still the most likely to survive.
Round of 16:
Djokovic d. Thiem (1-0 h2h)
Berdych d. Gasquet (6-7 h2h)
Federer d. Goffin (4-0 h2h)
Cilic d. Fritz
Nadal d. Raonic (6-1 h2h)
Isner d. Wawrinka (2-1 h2h)
Nishikori d. Tsonga (5-2 h2h)
Murray d. Monfils (4-2 h2h)
It’s hard to see Djokovic losing to Thiem, Berdych likely has a slight edge on Gasquet given the surface. Federer could be rusty, but he’s always handled Goffin well, Cilic should beat Fritz or Ferrer. Nadal could lose to Raonic, but his h2h is good, Isner should slip past Wawrinka if Stan plays like he did last week. Nishikori beat Tsonga this year in Melbourne, and Murray should have an edge in Miami over Monfils.
Quarters: Djokovic d. Berdych
Federer d. Cilic
Nadal d. Isner
Murray d. Nishikori
Djokovic should have no problem earning his second win of the year over Berdych, Federer hasn’t faced Cilic since losing to him at the 2014 US Open, but he still should be good enough given his 5-1 h2h. Nadal has never lost to Isner, and his IW showing gives him hope. Murray is vulnerable but he just beat Nishikori in Davis Cup play.
Semis: Djokovic d. Federer
Murray d. Nadal
Federer doesn’t have it in him to beat Djokovic at this point, Murray should be better on hard courts vs. Rafa if he can survive a murderers row of opponents.
Final: Djokovic d. Murray
Hard to see Djokovic losing a final as he’s won eight of them in a row. Look for him to take the Masters titles record with a victory in Miami.
Djokovic completes Miami/Indian Wells Double yet again, beats Murray in 2015 Miami Open Final Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
Photo Credit: Esam Taha
Novak Djokovic won his fifth Miami title, and completed his third career IW/Miami spring masters sweep with a 3 set win over Andy Murray on Sunday. Djokovic continues to be the world’s best player, and he has swept all of the elite level events thus far this season, the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami, as it seems that he is just about untouchable on hard courts at the moment.
Novak Djokovic d. Andy Murray 7-6(3) 4-6 6-0
After a couple of weeks of non-stop tennis action down in Miami, everyone was ready for the much-anticipated final between heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The pair have already clashed twice this year, as recent as in Indian Wells in a one-sided affair in favor of the world #1. Murray was looking to put in a better fight against an opponent he has not been able to figure out in recent times, losing 9 of their last 10 meetings. Meanwhile Novak was aiming to become the first player ever to win the Indian Wells – Miami combo 3 different times. Coming off a good performance vs Isner in the semifinal the Serb felt like he was peaking at the right time.
Murray came to play. The crowd barely settled in their seats as the world #4 went to work early, coming out with aggression on Novak’s serve forcing him to deuce right off the bat. It would end up being a tough hold for Novak but Andy had sent a clear message, he had come to play. Murray would hold at ease and once again the Serb would find himself in trouble on his service game. Murray was taking the initiative, stepping in whenever he saw an opportunity. It would pay off as Murray would be the first to draw blood as he broke to go up 2-1 early in the first. Djokovic despite looking a tad sloppy to start would not lose focus, but rather elevate his game to break right back the very following game. Novak realized this wasn’t going to be a repeat of Indian Wells, he needed to bring his A game. At 2-3 Murray would win a couple of incredible points to engaging the crowd early on, there was a lot of positive language from the Andy. He was locked in, somehow, ripping a backhand winner off a tough return from Novak to hold and square things up at 3-3. Just when it seemed both players were kicking it into top gear Novak would make 4 UEs on the trot to gift Murray his 2nd break of the set.
Murray would politely exchange gifts with Novak as he committed a few unforced of his own to give away his service game and tie things up at 4-4. It seemed like there was one side of the court affecting both players, the sun appeared to be right in their line of sight. It would be more apparent as Novak easily held while serving from the other side to go up 5-4. Murray would show little nerves to return the favor and take the set to 5-5. Despite a brilliant cross-court return winner from Andy to start the game Novak would keep his calm and hold to put the pressure back on Murray at 5-6. Murray serving with the sun in his eye would feel the pressure falling in a 0-30 hole. A splendid drop shot, a beautiful cross court backhand winner to win a long rally and Murray gets it right back to 30-30 as the crowd roared him on. As he looked set to force the tiebreak a brutal net cord would send it to deuce. Murray would survive the mini-battle as Novak left the drop shot short to force the tiebreak. Murray would not have his best tiebreak, committing a couple of bad errors to gift Novak a couple of minibreaks. Novak would get one of them back thanks to a Novak DF but he’d end the tiebreak with 3 balls straight into the net to lose the tiebreak and 1st set 6-7 (3). It was a tough way to lose the set considering Andy had slightly outplayed Novak for most of it.
Murray needed to reset and put that 1st behind him, and that would be exactly what he would do to start off the 2nd as he held with ease. At 1-1 Andy would find himself in a 0-30 hole as he tried the drop shot lob combo with Novak underestimating the Serb’s speed. A sloppy overhead from Murray, which would prove to be the first of many for both players, would set up a couple of breakpoints for Novak. The Scot would battle back and save the breakpoint with an ace as he let out a big fist pump. Novak stared at his racket as he knew he let Murray off the hook with an unforced error on a return off a weak Murray 2nd serve, that was the 4th BP Murray saved that game. “COME ON!” Murray shouted and motioned to the crowd as he fired two big serves to hold and escape a dangerous game. The pendulum would quickly swing the other way as a DF from Novak set up a break point for Murray. However Andy would bail out the defending champion with a couple of UE to level things up at 2-2. The finalists would trade holds, Novak sealing his with a difficult DTL backhand winner, to which the “Nole, Nole” chants broke out in the crowd. A somewhat sloppy set would continue with more and more UEs from both players, including an awful display of overhead misses. Still there were no breaks as Novak came out to serve to stay in the set at 4-5 in the 2nd. The sloppiness would continue from the Serb quickly falling behind 0-30 with the pressure mounting. Andy 2 point away from claiming the 2nd, hit a winner off a Novak overhead, a shot he has been particularly struggling with all afternoon, to set up 3 set points. Murray would claim the 2nd in emphatic fashion as he punished a weak Novak 2nd serve with a cross court backhand winner. The frustration would visibly get to Novak as he snatched a towel from a flinching ball boy while yelling at his box, invoking a code violation warning. It wasn’t a good look for the Serb but he would later apologize for the incident on his facebook page.
The crowd was excited, the 2015 Miami Open final was going the distance. Despite Murray having the mental edge given how things ended the previous set, he didn’t start off the 3rd like he had it. Murray would have not 1, not 2, but 3 chances to put away an overhead but Novak would deny him to set up break points. Andy would save one but then stick the backhand right into the net to go down a break right off the bat in the decider. He would look to make amends quickly pushing the Serb to deuce with aggressive play. Novak would have to pull off an incredible play to consolidate as he flicked a ball that was practically behind him to take the point. It seemed like Andy put all he had into that game, what would follow would not be pretty. The Scot showed plenty of negative body language and moving gingerly between points, summing it up with a double fault to face triple break point. Out of nowhere the Scot would bring himself back into it saving all 3 breakpoints including a perfectly placed DTL backhand winner, bringing the crowd out of their seats. Another Murray missed overhead, the theme of the match, would setup a 6th break chance for Novak in that game. Novak would not let 6 opportunities pass him by, converting the 6th to put one hand on the trophy as he went up 2 breaks, 3-0 in the decider.
There wasn’t much fight left in Murray following that, he was broken again to give the Serb a chance to serve out the bagel. The world #1 would make no mistake as he closed out the 3rd set to claim his 5th Miami Open title 7-6(3) 4-6 6-0. It was an anticlimactic finish to a final which was dramatic yet subpar in terms of quality. Djokovic became the first player ever to win the Indian Wells – Miami duo 3 separate times.
It was a pleasure to provide complete coverage of the 2015 Miami Open here at Tennis Atlantic, we greatly enjoyed having our guest writer Esam Taha on site in Miami covering all the action, and want to congratulate him on the awesome job he did, we look forward to bringing you credentialed on-site coverage from Miami next year-The Editors