Del Potro, Federer Match-Up Looms In Miami
A week after meeting Novak Djokovic in the third round in Indian Wells, Juan Martin del Potro could face another all-time great early at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, which starts on Wednesday in Key Biscayne.
The 29th-seeded del Potro opens with a bye and could meet Dutchman Robin Haase or 18-year-old Swede wild card Mikael Ymer in the second round. In the third round, the Argentine could face BNP Paribas Open champion Roger Federer.
Federer, the fourth seed in Miami, leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 15-5, but the two haven't played since the round-robin stage of the 2013 ATP Finals. Federer won that three-set battle 7-5 in the third. The Swiss star will be going for his 26th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and looking to sweep the March Masters for the third time in his career. He also pulled off the Indian Wells-Miami double in 2005-06.
Del Potro, who fell to Djokovic in three sets in Indian Wells, reached the second round in Miami last year, when his comeback was still in its nascent stages. This year, the 6'6” right-hander has a 5-3 record and all three losses have come against Top 5 players – Djokovic twice and Milos Raonic during the Delray Beach Open semi-finals.
Whomever survives that possible third-round match could meet 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, should the seeds play out, in the fourth round. Tenth seed Tomas Berdych or sixth seed Dominic Thiem could be waiting in the quarter-finals, with a possible match-up against top seed Stan Wawrinka looming in the semi-finals.
Wawrinka leads a Masters 1000 tournament field for the first time in his 16-year career. His best result in South Florida came in 2009 and 2014 when he reached the fourth round. This week, after a first-round bye, Wawrinka could face Portugal's Gastao Elias or Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the second round. Buenos Aires champion Alexandr Dolgopolov or 31st seed Feliciano Lopez could be Stan's third-round opponent.
A fourth-round duel against 18th seed John Isner or 16th seed #NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev would draw a crowd. Twelfth seed Nick Kyrgios, eighth seed David Goffin and 17th seed Ivo Karlovic are among the favourites to meet Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
In the bottom half of the draw, fifth seed Rafael Nadal, who's going for his first Miami title, will face a qualifier or Israeli Dudi Sela in the second round. #NextGenATP star Taylor Fritz, who gained his first Top 10 win in Indian Wells (d. Cilic), or 26th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber are possible third-round opponents for the Spaniard, who is a four-time finalist in Miami.
Ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov, a two-time titlist in 2017, and Nadal could meet in the fourth round, with BNP Paribas Open semi-finalist Jack Sock or third seed Milos Raonic the seeded favourites to face Nadal in the last eight.
Japan's Kei Nishikori, who lives and trains in Bradenton, Florida, is the second seed but hardly has a cakewalk draw. Former Top 10 player Kevin Anderson (second round), 25th seed Fernando Verdasco (third round), 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta (fourth round) and seventh seed Marin Cilic (quarter-finals) all could stand in Nishikori's path to his first Miami title. The right-hander reached the Miami final last year before falling to Djokovic.