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Miami Masters: Men's singles draw preview

From the harsh yet welcoming Californian desert, tennis moves on to the more humid Miami, giving a serious challenge to all the players. The heat is probably not as grueling as it was at Indian Wells, but the threat of rain lashing hard looms large. It’s amidst these climatic fluctuations that the players will take on the field; a field whose significance is indisputable even though the absence of two of the biggest tennis stars makes it look stark and eerily unfulfilled.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s lack of participation notwithstanding, the Miami Masters still features most of men’s tennis’s biggest stars. Here’s what the men’s singles draw looks like:

Will Nole get back to winning ways in Miami? (Getty Images)

Will Nole get back to winning ways in Miami? (Getty Images)

Top Half: Novak Djokovic’s Quarter

All eyes have been on the World No. 1 ever since he won his fourth – and third straight – Australian Open singles title. He hasn’t disappointed much, giving all his opponents a run for their money. Except for his defeat to Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-finals, Nole hasn’t lost a single match, which makes him the man to beat at Miami.

Is he beatable? Maybe he is, since most of the toughest competitors seem to have been piled up in his half. If all goes well – or if it doesn’t – Nole is likely to face Spanish Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller or Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round, both of whom who can be as maverick as the word can be stretched to, if things get going for either of them. Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, Ukrainian Dolgopolov, Indian Wells quarterfinalist Kevin Anderson and Djokovic’s countryman Janko Tipsarevic could be awaiting Nole as he progresses further along the tournament. And if these were hurdles, the other quarter has more in store for the otherwise ebullient Serb.

Quarterfinal prediction: Novak Djokovic def. Kevin Anderson

Top Half: David Ferrer’s Quarter

David Ferrer forms the perfect support cast to even out a brilliant playing field. Although 2013 may have not gone as he would have liked it to pan out so far, with him not being able to defend his Acapulco title, Ferrer still remains a strong top-five player. At Miami, the Spaniard will have to fend off upset possibilities in the form of Kei Nishikori, Argentine Juan Monaco and Julien Benneteau, with the possibility of facing yet another Argentine in Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinal. A battle of wills, this quarter.

Quarter-final Prediction: Juan Martin Del Potro def. David Ferrer

Bottom Half: Tomas Berdych’s Quarter

If the top half consisted of all the big-wigs of tennis and several upset possibilities, then the bottom half will likely offer a lot of straight-forward results. Not that this section is without adequate reinforcements, though. On the surface, it’s probably the third quarter that contains all the hard-hitters and big servers in the form of Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco, Nicholas Almagro, Mikhail Youzhny, Sam Querrey and Czech Davis Cup hero, Tomas Berdych. Straight-forward results or not, one thing that can be definitely expected from these guys is the full roster of 12 games, without much break in serve, stride or momentum.

Quarter-final prediction: Tomas Berdych def. Nicolas Almagro

Murray has the easiest draw of the lot. (Getty Images)

Murray has the easiest draw of the lot. (Getty Images)

Bottom Half: Andy Murray’s Quarter

This is perhaps the most lightweight quarter as compared to other three tough ones. Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga’s presence forms the perfect lead ensemble with Martin Klizan, Jerzy Janowicz, John Isner, Grigor Dimitrov, Andreas Seppi and Marin Cilic providing a varied backdrop. Murray’s threat to Federer’s ranking notwithstanding, a run to the semis seems to be the Scot’s for the taking. The big question, however, remains whether or not Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will rise up to the occasion and take down Murray before the Scot runs away with the draw, the game and potentially, even the tournament.

Quarterfinal prediction: Andy Murray def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Semifinal I – Novak Djokovic versus Juan Martin Del Potro: A repeat of the Indian Wells semi-finals scenario, with Juan Martin Del Potro taking on Novak Djokovic. But this time, expect there to be a twist in the tale. Nole is nothing if not consistent. Enough said.

Semifinal II – Tomas Berdych versus Andy Murray: The Czech to take on the Scot. Tomas Berdych hasn’t done well against most top-four guys, a fact that’ll probably go against him this time. And irrespective of whether he has the game or the power to bring it on against Murray, the Scot hardly ever loses his momentum in such tournaments, which makes him a clear favourite.

Final – Novak Djokovic versus Andy Murray: To sum it up in a single sentence, look for the return of the prodigal Serb to his winning ways.

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