Miami Open 2019 Men’s Singles: Preview and Prediction
With 2019 Miami Open draw having been announced and the qualifying matches in progress right now, this is a good time to have a look at the way the tournament may pan out, in the men’s singles.
Novak Djokovic is the top seed and though his great rival Roger Federer is the fourth seed, with Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem being the second and third seeds, respectively, it is a great relief to find Novak and Federer on opposite sides of the draw. A Federer-Djokovic final is certainly on the cards.
The just concluded Indian Wells produced some terrific tennis, but there were two major disappointments for the tennis fans worldwide: Djokovic’s early exit and Nadal’s withdrawal just before the much-awaited Fedal clash. Hopefully, Miami Masters will produce the expected Federer-Djokovic summit clash!
But that is no guarantee as the Miami Open field has almost every top player vying to outdo the others, except the unfortunate absentees, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro. Moreover, both Federer and Djokovic had a tournament to forget last year. Both had lost their first round matches to unheralded opponents – Benoit Paire and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
This year though it is difficult to see either of the big two faltering early in the tournament. This time last year, Djokovic was going through the worst slump in his career and Federer was on a downward spiral, having failed to defend his Indian Wells title. Both have been handed tough draws this year too, but they both look confident going into this tournament.
Federer’s projected route to Final
Federer will of course have a bye in the first round, and his second round opponent will either be a qualifier or the hard-working Aussie Matthew Ebden. He should sail through that match without much difficulty.
His third round clash may likely see him being face to face with his compatriot Stan Wawrinka for a second time in two weeks. He had got the better of Stan at Indian Wells in straight sets. Stan, for all his on-court exploits, has not yet unlocked the code to crack Roger on a hard court. It is unlikely he will be able to do so here at Miami.
The likely fourth round opponent for Federer could be the fast rising Russian Daniil Medvedev. The Russian has had a stellar season so far, but has seen a slight dip in form in the last couple of tournaments. So, even if he manages to reach this far, it is unlikely he will pose much of a challenge to the Swiss Maestro.
Federer’s quarter final opponent will be either Kevin Anderson or Karen Khachanov. The two big-servers had stellar seasons last year, but neither has been in especially dominant form this season, so far. Federer should be able to see off their challenge.
To reach the final, Federer will have to get through either Alexander Zverev or Stefano Tsitsipas. Both have enjoyed success against the maestro, and may pose significant challenge to the Swiss star. But if he is fit, Federer should be able to get it past them.
Djokovic’s projected route to Final
Like Federer, Djokovic too has been handed a tough draw. After a first round bye, he may not get a chance to ease through the early rounds, as he is likely to face the dangerous Tomas Berdych as early as in the second round itself. If he is not at his best, he may face another early exit after a similar fate at the Indian Wells Masters.
He is projected to meet John Millman, the Aussie with never-say-die attitude in the third round, and his fourth round opponent could be another hard-working player – Roberto Bautista Agut. The latter has already defeated him earlier this year; so, the Serbian can take him lightly only at his own peril.
Just like Federer, Djokovic is projected to meet a big-server in the quarter finals. It could either be the defending champion John Isner or the resurgent Canadian Milos Raonic. In either case, Djokovic’s more accomplished game gives him the edge over a largely one-dimensional game of either of the two.
In the semi-final, he may face either the newly crowned Indian Wells Champion Dominic Thiem or the Asian number one, Kei Nishikori. It will be a tightly contested match for sure, but with a record seventh Miami Open title so close at hand, a motivated Djokovic will certainly raise his game, if required and get the job done.
If both Federer and Djokovic make it to the final, then it could be anybody’s game. Djokovic has won six times and Federer three times here. Federer’s last win here was in 2017 and Djokovic’s in 2016.
The two have met each other only once here, that too way back in 2009. It was the Serb who had got the better of an unusually agitated Swiss that time. But this time, Federer has a chance to avenge that loss. Unlike a five-set grand-slam match, Federer could still get the better of the Serb in a three-set Masters encounter.
Semi-Finals: Federer beats Alexander Zverev
Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori
Final: Federer beats Djokovic