After two and a half months of some sensational tennis in various parts of the world, the tennis world is to gather in Miami as the 2nd Masters Series Tournament, Sony Open gets underway in the beautiful city of Miami, Florida, USA. This will be the 29th edition of this tournament since its inception in 1985. Played on the outdoor hard courts of the Crandon Park Tennis Centre, the men’s singles draw consists of 92 players qualifying for the main draw. The tournament is one of the most prestigious events on tour, renowned for its color, music & glamour, as quoted by the official Twitter account of this tournament. It will be played from 17th March to 30th March this year. 19 of the top 20 men are playing this year at this tournament in Key Biscayne.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal leads the pack as the Spaniard is the top seed and is contesting to win this trophy for the first time in the 13th year of his illustrious career. The man from Mallorca did not play last year because of a troubling knee injury but he comes here this year eyeing the trophy he hasn’t won as yet. Analyzing his hard court performance this year, he has won a title in Doha, reached the finals of the Australian Open and suffered a shock defeat at the year’s first masters series tournament falling in the round of 32 against an inspired Alexandr Dolgopolov who is playing some sensational tennis this year.
Nadal is a three time Runner up in this tournament. With the other members of the Big 4 in the bottom half, one must say this is a comfortable draw for Nadal. He is drawn up to meet Wawrinka in the semis and should that come to pass, it will give us a rematch of the Australian Open Final where Wawrinka turned the tables on the 13 time GS champion. Also in this draw is Raonic, who has the kind of game that has troubled Nadal in the past. With the humid air and the relatively slower hard courts though, Raonic has the conditions against him to pull off the win.
Novak Djokovic is the second seed here. The three time champion will look forward to continuing his winning run on hard courts after recently edging Federer in a nerve wrecking final at Indian Wells. The Serbian was struggling with his form early this year but now seems to have a breath of fresh air, gaining momentum after his win at Indian Wells. Last year, Djokovic was beaten here by Tommy Haas in the round of 16. This year on hard courts, Djokovic has been a Quarterfinalist at the Australian Open, semifinalist at Dubai and Champion at Indian Wells. In the Quarterfinals, Novak is due to meet his good friend and rival Andy Murray, who is the defending champion here at the Sony Open.
The Brit is seeded sixth here and is trying to claim his first title of the season. This year on the hard courts, Andy has reached the Semis at Acapulco, Quarters at the Australian Open and Rotterdam and pre-quarterfinals at Doha and Indian Wells. His split from his coach Ivan Lendl, on the eve of this tournament he has to defend, definitely surprised fans worldwide – It will be interesting to see how Murray handles it.
Third seeded Wawrinka comes to this tournament with his unbeaten run ended. He lost in the round of 16 to Kevin Anderson at the Indian Wells Open in an exciting contest between the two. However last year the Swiss did not play here due to arm and back injury, but this year he will look to restart his run at the hard courts which gave him incredible titles at the Chennai and the Australian open. The draw has Wawrinka meeting the Indian Wells Open semifinalist Alexander Dolgopolov in fourth round who is off to the best start of his career. Wawrinka will be keen to restart another streak and will be hungry to capture more titles this year.
Fourth seed David Ferrer missed the Indian Wells tournament this year due to a leg injury. David Ferrer – last year’s finalist has had a relatively tough season this year on the hard courts. He lost in 2nd round at the Qatar open, quarters at the Australian open and had to retire in quarterfinals of the Mexico Open. However he has won a title at the Copa Claro open tournament, played on clay. In the quarterfinals, he’s been drawn to meet the man whom he hasn’t beaten in their previous 14 meetings. That would be the fifth seeded Roger Federer. Federer’s game has never looked better in the last 15monts and he is off to a commendable start. Winning the Dubai Open, reaching the finals of Brisbane and Indian Wells and being a semifinalist at the Australian Open, Federer will be looking forward to add a third Sony Open title. He has won it back in 2005 and 2006 when the tournament was called the NASDAQ-100 Open.
The efforts made by the Swiss legend along with new coach – Stefan Edberg and his new racquet have definitely showed their worth this season. Federer will be trying to win his 22nd Masters series in Miami and one can expect him to continue his good run and dig deep into the draw. Everyone who has witnessed his many comebacks during his glorious years, will be hoping he makes a run for the title in Miami.
Seventh seeded Tomas Berdych also has had an incredible run on the hard courts this year. He won Rotterdam, reached the finals of the Dubai, lost in the semis of the Australian open. The draw has The Czech big hitter meeting Wawrinka in the quarters. His best result in the Key Biscayne has come as a finalist in 2010 (losing to Andy Roddick). Last year here he was a quarter finalist losing to Richard Gasquet. Gasquet is the ninth seed here. The Frenchman this year has reached the finals of Montpellier, Semis at the Marseille Open and has fallen in the stages before quarterfinals in the rest of the tournaments he has played this year. His best result here has come as a semifinalist last year.
Tenth seeded American, John Isner is in great form and will try to continue his good run to please the local crowd with his strong serve and big hitting game. This year on hard courts, Isner has had an impressive run. He won at Auckland , reached the Semis at the Delray Beach and Indian Well but has suffered losses before the quarterfinals in the rest of the tournaments he has played this season. His best result in this tournament has come in 2011. He was defeated in the pre quarterfinal stage then. The American holds a special affinity for all the tournaments he plays in his home country and his results definitely indicate that he is going to be a tough out for most players.
Other men to look out for are Jo- Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Ernests Gulbis, Alexander Dolgopolov, Marin Cilic, and Kevin Anderson. Apart from Isner, other Americans playing are Sam Querry, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock and Steve Johnson.
The year’s first masters series was filled with many amazing matches and lots of surprises. It will be very interesting to see what the second one has got in the box and which players would be creating the buzz. This beautiful tournament in the Miami has a lot to offer and yet again create some great moments in tennis. A delicious tennis treat is whipped up for the fans as they get to see their heroes in action in the heat of Miami. The first masters’ series was filled with various upsets and it is going to be very interesting to see what this tournament has got in store for the lovers of the sport. What happens in Miami, definitely does NOT stay in Miami.
-Vishakha Khandelwal [Vishakha is a Tennis Analyst for Sportz Cosmos. You can reach her at the gmail id : sportzcosmos]