The Masters 1000 events come thick and fast in March, with the Miami Open set to begin just days after the conclusion of Indian Wells.
Austria’s Dominic Thiem became a first-time Masters champion on Sunday as he surprisingly defeated Roger Federer in the Californian desert but the Swiss will have the opportunity to quickly bounce back from the disappointment of defeat as he looks to become the first champion in the inaugural tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The 37-year-old Swiss could face compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the third round – as was the case at the BNP Paribas Open – with dangerous Russian Daniil Medvedev among those lying in wait in the last-16.
Potential Federer route to Miami glory
Kevin Anderson – making his return from injury – will fight it out with the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Karen Khachanov for a spot in the quarter-finals, with 17-year-old French Open and Wimbledon junior champion Chun Hsin Tseng and British No. 2 Cameron Norrie also in that section of the draw.
Last year’s runner-up and world No. 3 Alexander Zverev will be the favourite to reach the semi-finals ahead of the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and Marin Cilic.
Federer was kept apart from world No. 1 and potential final opponent Novak Djokovic, who will be chasing his own slice of history in Miami.
Only Andre Agassi has won as many titles at the Masters 1000 event as the six-time champion but he can become the outright most successful player in the tournament’s history, should he go all the way. He can also equal Rafael Nadal’s haul of 33 Masters titles. Nadal will not compete as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
Djokovic appeared rusty in Indian Wells, having not played competitive tennis since his storming Australian Open victory over Nadal in January, and surprisingly crashed out to Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in round three – although he did enjoy a run to the semi-finals of the doubles with Fabio Fognini.
It seems unlikely that the Serb would fall early at two big events in a row but the 31-year-old, like Federer, has been handed some testing early matches.
Tomas Berdych is a likely first opponent, should the Czech defeat Australian bad boy Bernard Tomic, with gritty Aussie John Millman the favourite to join him in round three.
Djokovic potential route to Miami Open glory
R4: Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista Agut is one of just two men to defeat the top seed so far this year and he could await the 15-time Grand Slam champion in the last-16.
It’s likely that Djokovic would face a big server in the quarter-finals, with defending champion John Isner and Milos Raonic the favourites to advance to the quarter-finals, although British No. 1 Kyle Edmund has shown good form and could ruffle a few feathers.
The other quarter in the top half of the draw seems wide open. Thiem may struggle to back up that glorious effort at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and there’s little to split other big names in the field including Kei Nishikori, Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric and Gael Monfils.
Predicted Miami Open quarter-final line-up
Djokovic vs Raonic
Thiem vs Nishikori
Federer vs Khachanov
Zverev vs Tsitsipas
Nishikori is typically the safest pair of hands of that group and seems a steady bet to join Djokovic in the semi-finals.
A Federer-Djokovic final is certainly no guarantee but both will view this as a chance to claim a statement win before heading to the European clay.
They have only met once in these parts, with Djokovic beating a hot-tempered Swiss – who decimated his racquet in the third set – in the 2009 semi-finals.