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Davydenko, Baghdatis In Action As March Mania Resumes

Miami, U.S.A.

Davydenko© Getty ImagesNikolay Davydenko won the Miami title in 2008.

MARCH MANIA: The second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the month gets under way at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park today. The Sony Open Tennis, in its 30th year, boasts a star-studded line-up, which features 19 of the top 20 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings (except No. 15 Youzhny). The 96-man draw is headlined by world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who lifted his first title of the season at the BNP Paribas Open last week. The field features four former winners: Djokovic (2007, ‘11-12), Indian Wells finalist Roger Federer (2005-06), former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko (2008) and reigning champion Andy Murray (2013, ‘09). Miami is the second of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events this season.

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DAY 1 PREVIEW: The 16 1R matches in the bottom half of the draw all take to court on the opening day of play. Leading the way on Stadium is 2008 champion Davydenko, who takes on Frenchman Adrian Mannarino for the first time. The other two matches on the main show court see former top 10 player Juan Monaco take a 6-1 lead into his eighth meeting with Jeremy Chardy, while wild card entrant Marcos Baghdatis goes up against Santiago Giraldo for the second time with the Cypriot leading their H2H 1-0. Julien Benneteau, who arrives in Miami off the back of a QF appearance in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic), takes on 19-year-old British wild card Kyle Edmund on Court 1. There are no players from the USA in the bottom half of the draw. 

DJOKOVIC ON THE DOUBLE? Djokovic will bid to become just the second player to complete the Indian Wells, Miami title sweep on two separate occasions. Seven players have achieved back-to-back success at the flagship events – Jim Courier (1991), Michael Chang (1992), Pete Sampras (1994), Marcelo Rios (1998), Andre Agassi (2001), Djokovic (2011) and Roger Federer (2005-06), who is the only player to have done it twice. The Serb defeated Federer in the BNP Paribas Open final last week to win his 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and 42nd overall. He moved ahead of Stefan Edberg into 14th place on the Open Era titles list with the win. He also tied Andre Agassi in third place in ATP Masters 1000 titles won (behind Nadal 26, Federer 21).

NADAL CHASES ELUSIVE CROWN: Miami is one of three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events that Nadal has yet to get his hands on (along with Shanghai and Paris). The top seeded Spaniard has fallen in the final three times: 2005 (l. to Federer), 2008 (l. to Davydenko) and 2011 (l. to Djokovic in a 3rd set TB).

SWISS SUCCESS: Federer joined countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in the top five this week after his run to the final in Indian Wells. This marks the first time in Emirates ATP Rankings history (since 1973) that two players from Switzerland are ranked in the top five at the same time. 

DEFENDING CHAMPION RETURNS: Reigning champion Murray, who also lifted the title in 2009, enters Miami with a 19-6 career record – also a finalist in 2012 (l. to Djokovic). The 26-year-old is bidding to win three titles at the one event for just the second time in his career. He has lifted the London / Queen’s Club crown three times (2009, ‘11, ‘13). Murray is also looking to reach his first final since winning a maiden title at Wimbledon last July. The Scot, who has a residence in Miami, comes in ranked No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings with a 14-5 match record on the season. 

ISNER RETURNS TO TOP 10: Top American John Isner, seeded No. 10 this week, is back in the top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since Sept 24, 2012. That year he ranked in the top 10 for 18 weeks – reaching a career high No. 9 on Apr 16 – before finishing the year at No. 14. The 28-year-old Tampa resident is coming off a SF appearance in Indian Wells (l. to eventual champ Djokovic). He has finished as the No. 1 American the past two years.

RANKING RISER: Alexandr Dolgopolov has made the biggest jump in the top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings since the close of 2013, rising 34 places from No. 57 to No. 23. Last week, the Ukrainian posted the biggest win of his career over world No. 1 Nadal to advance to the SF at the BNP Paribas Open – his first appearance at that stage of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event – before falling to Federer. He also posted three top 20 wins en route to the final in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Nadal) in February before reaching the SF a week later in Acapulco (l. to Anderson). 

YOUNG TALENT: Grigor Dimitrov broke the top 20 for the first time in February after a QF appearance at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal) and a title-winning run in Acapulco (d. No. 18 Gulbis, No. 7 Murray and No. 21 Anderson). The Bulgarian became just the second player born in the 1990s to win multiple ATP World Tour titles, after world No. 11 Milos Raonic, who has five titles to his name. The Canadian enters Miami after a QF run at Indian Wells where he posted an upset of world No. 6 Murray in the 4R (l. to Dolgopolov). Raonic and Dimitrov are two of four players born in the 1990s to feature in the top 30 of the Emirates ATP Rankings:
No. 12 Milos Raonic (23 years, 2 months)
No. 16 Grigor Dimitrov (22 years, 9 months)
No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz (23 years, 3 months)
No. 28 Vasek Pospisil (23 years, 8 months)

KEY TO REACHING NO. 1? In the past four years (and six of the last eight), the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings has won the most ATP Masters 1000 matches during that season. Here’s a look at the year-end No. 1 players and their ATP Masters 1000 win-loss record those years: 

2013 Rafael Nadal 35-3 5
2012 Novak Djokovic 34-6 3
2011 Novak Djokovic 33-1 5
2010 Rafael Nadal 29-5 3
2008 Rafael Nadal 32-6 3
2006 Roger Federer 34-3 4

MARCH LEADERBOARD: Here’s a look at those who lead the way amongst active players for titles in the month of March: 

Roger Federer 9 Indian Wells (2012, '06-04); Dubai ('14, '12, '07, '04-03)
Lleyton Hewitt 6 Las Vegas (2007); Indian Wells ('03-02); Scottsdale ('03, '00); San Jose ('02)
Rafael Nadal 5 Indian Wells (2013, '09, '07); Acapulco ('13); Dubai ('06)
Novak Djokovic 5 Dubai (2013, '09); Indian Wells ('14, '11, '08)

* Federer in 2005-06 and Djokovic in ‘07, ‘11-12 won titles in Miami, which began in March and ended in April.

DOUBLES WATCH: After the opening 18 tournaments of 2014 saw 18 different pairs emerge victorious, Bob and Mike Bryan became the first team to win multiple titles this season when they lifted their second BNP Paribas Open crown at the weekend (d. world No. 2 duo Bruno Soares and Alexander Peya in F). Daniel Nestor has won multiple titles this year but with different partners. The Canadian lifted the title in the season opener in Brisbane alongside Mariusz Fyrstenberg before teaming up with Nenad Zimonjic to win in Sydney a week later. 

MIRNYI GOING FOR FIVE: Max Mirnyi teams up with Feliciano Lopez this week as he goes in search of an unprecedented fifth Miami title. The Belarus native has appeared in seven of the last 11 finals here and is currently tied with Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde on four titles, winning in 2003 (w/Federer), 2005 (w/Bjorkman), 2006 (w/Bjorkman) and 2009 (w/Ram).

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