Tennis - Miami Masters Preview
The ATP Miami Masters 1000 Series gets underway this afternoon and this year’s event will be most notable for the fact the current world number one and two players Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are absent due to injury. Prior to this year’s renewal these two players had dominated the tournament over the last decade winning eight of the last ten titles; Murray twice (2009 and 2013) and Djokovic a record six times (2007, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016). With the two now absent the tournament now looks wide open and we could be in for plenty of upsets and even a surprise winner, although past statistics suggest otherwise.
The top two seeds have performed quite well over the last decade and the top seed has won three of the last ten titles (last Djokovic 2016) and they were a losing finalist twice in this period (last Nadal 2014). The second seed has also won three of the last ten titles (last Djokovic 2014) and they were a losing finalist once in this period (Nadal 2008).
Seeded players in general have dominated the tournament over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than two has won the last five Miami titles and a player seeded no higher than ten has won the last ten titles overall. A player seeded no higher than 16 was also a losing finalist each year over the last decade and an unseeded player has never won the title or reached the final over the last decade.
Two time Miami and recent Indian Wells winner, Roger Federer (seeded 4) returns to Miami for the first time since 2014 when he reached the quarter-finals (lost to Nishikori) and he will be a popular choice this week given his scintillating form so far this year. However, he has not reached the final since winning the event back in 2006 and its probably expecting too much of Federer at his age to win back-to-back Masters events with conditions likely to be hot, humid and physically draining this week.
Top-seed Stan Wawrinka will also be popular having turned his Masters Series hard court form on its head at Indian Wells last week. However, his best results at Miami are two fourth round defeats and he makes little appeal at the prices. Players who look like potential winners from the top half of the draw are eighth seed Dominic Thiem, 12th seed Nick Kyrgios and 16th seed Alexander Zverev (50/1) and, of the three, Zverev appeals the most from an outright perspective at the prices. Kyrgios withdrew prior to his quarter-final match against Federer at Indian Wells and Thiem (8/1) is worth siding with to win the Second Quarter a he’s shown the best recent form in his section, apart from Federer.
From the bottom half of the draw 2016 finalist and second seed Kei Nishikori has a good record at Miami and he is more than capable of reaching the final again if he can repeat his 2016 form however, he has disappointed on hard courts so far this year and does not look 100% fit at present and on that basis and at the prices I will avoid him on this occasion. It’s worth giving ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov (9/2) another chance but this time to win the Third Quarter as fifth seed Nadal did not impress last week and third seed Raonic is returning after an injury lay-off that kept him out of Indian Wells. Jack Sock (40/1) could be his main challenger as he impressed at Indian Wells last week and usually performs well on home spoil so is worth siding with at the odds, as is 11th seed Lucas Pouille (80/1) as he proved he’s a top-class performer last season at this level and is starting to peak again after picking up an ankle injury at the start of the year.