Djokovic, Federer In Same Half Of Miami Draw
The World No. 1 goes for sixth Miami title; Federer to face del Potro/Pella winner
The ATP World Tour changes U.S. coasts this week, from Indian Wells, California, to Miami, Florida. But many will be asking the same question as the month's second Masters 1000 tournament kicks off: Who, if anyone, can slow down World No. 1 Novak Djokovic?
Djokovic is 22-1 on the year, his only imperfection a retirement to Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the Dubai quarter-finals that Djokovic avenged last week with a straight-sets win in Indian Wells. The Serb also has won 14 consecutive sets since dropping his opening frame at the BNP Paribas Open.
Djokovic, a five-time Miami champion (2007, '11-12, '14-15), is looking to win a record 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Miami. He receives a first-round bye but will open his title defense against either Kyle Edmund of Great Britain or the Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely. Should Djokovic bypass his second-round opponents, the first seeded player he could meet is Slovakia's Martin Klizan, the No. 25 seed. Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-0.
In the fourth round, Djokovic potentially could meet World No. 14 Dominic Thiem, who's played some of his best tennis in 2016. Thiem, the No. 14 seed, is the only player with as many wins as Djokovic – 22 – this year and nearly as many titles – two to Djokovic's three.
But Thiem doesn't have a straight line to Djokovic. The Austrian may have to overcome Lopez in the third round. Thiem possesses a 3-1 advantage in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. In the quarter-finals, Djokovic could play the No. 10 seed Richard Gasquet or the No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych. Gasquet and Berdych each receive a first-round bye and are seeded to play in the fourth round. Gasquet leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 7-6 and beat Berdych the last time they played on hard courts.
In the semi-finals, World No. 3 Roger Federer, could await Djokovic. Federer returns to the ATP World Tour this week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus on 3 February. The Swiss will be making his 16th appearance in Miami and going for his third title (2005-06 champion).
The two-time champion, though, received a less-than-ideal draw. He receives a first-round bye but could face Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round, which would be Federer's first match since 28 January. Federer won their last contest, a three-set battle at the 2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The 34 year old also leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 15-5.
Del Potro opens against fellow Argentine Guido Pella, who enters Miami at a career-high No. 39 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Pella, a finalist in Rio last month, reached the third round at the BNP Paribas Open (l. to Goffin).
Should Federer escape his opening match, the Swiss No. 1 could be on track to face the No. 28 seed Jeremy Chardy in the third round and Belgium's David Goffin in the fourth round. Goffin, the No. 15 seed, is coming off a career-best showing in Indian Wells, where he made the semi-finals and beat Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic. In the quarter-finals, either No. 11 seed Marin Cilic or No. 8 seed David Ferrer could await Federer.
World No. 2 and returning finalist Andy Murray leads the bottom half of the draw, as he looks to bounce back from an early exit in Indian Wells (l. to Delbonis). He could potentially face a third-round rematch with Federico Delbonis, who will first need to get through 19-year-old Swede Elias Ymer and No. 26 seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Brit, meanwhile, will open against either 19-year-old Borna Coric or Denis Istomin in the second round.
Murray is seeded to play the always tricky Gael Monfils in the fourth round, and could confront either Japan's Kei Nishikori or France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. Nishikori and Tsonga both reached the Indian Wells quarter-finals, respectively falling to Nadal and Djokovic.
Nadal, seeded No. 5, will look to maintain his momentum from a semi-final run in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic), but could face Indian Wells finalist Milos Raonic, the No. 12 seed, in the fourth round and No. 4 seed Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. The top three Americans – No. 13 seed John Isner, No. 22 seed Jack Sock and No. 29 seed Sam Querrey – are also in the quarter of the draw.