It is down to only 32 players from the original 96 in the Miami ATP 1000 by Itau as the bottom half of the men’s draw will play for a place in the last 16 on Day 5 at Key Biscayne, Florida. Six second round in the bottom half of the draw were also completed on Day 4 enabling to complete the line up in the round of 32 as the top half also completed their scheduled matches. Second seed and four time runner up Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray who has a home in Miami as he trains there and a champion in 2009 and 2013, Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion and Tomas Berdych will be in action but the star of the day could be the American Jack Sock as he would be fancied to beat the Austrian Dominic Thiem on Sunday.
The line-up in the bottom half of the draw with my picks mentioned first is :-
Stanislas Wawrinka (7) v. Adrien Mannarino (28)
Jack Sock v. Dominic Thiem
Kevin Anderson (15) v. Leonardo Mayer (24)
Andy Murray (3) v. Santiago Giraldo (27)
Tomas Berdych (8) v. Bernard Tomic (25)
Gael Monfils (17) v. Jo Wilfred Tsonga (11)
Juan Monaco v. Guillermo Garcia Lopez (23)
Rafael Nadal (2) v. Fernando Verdasco (29)
Nadal once again is lined up against a fellow Spaniard as he faces Fernando Verdasco, the duo were involved in a marathon 5 hour 14 minute semi-final at the 2009 Australian Open which Nadal eventually claimed defeating arch rival Roger Federer in the final while his potential semi-final opponent Andy Murray will play the Colombian Santiago Giraldo. Stanislas Wawrinka, the top ranked Swiss player in the absence of two time champion Federer should be comfortably through against French left hander Adrien Mannarino while Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic would be severely tested by the in-form Australian Davis Cup hero Bernard Tomic who could be buoyed by his countrymen winning the Cricket world cup for the fifth time today in Melbourne.
The most anticipated match on Day Five could be between the two flamboyant Frenchmen Jo Wilfred Tsonga who is playing his first tournament of the year and Gael Monfils. While Tsonga has a 4-1 head to head record against the mercurial Monfils, the latter might just prevail in a tight contest. Another tough match to call is the one involving the tall South African Kevin Anderson and the Argentine number one Leonardo Mayer who won an epic five set match lasting a record 6 hour 42 minutes in Buenos Aires against the Brazilian Joao Souza as he won both his singles rubbers in Argentina’s win. Another Argentine Juan Monaco who reached the semi-final in 2012 and is on a comeback trail should continue his good form against the Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez.
On a busy day Four when 22 matches were completed Novak Djokovic recovered after failing to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set against Slovakia’s Martin Klizan who reeled off four games in a row before the Serb prevailed 6-0,5-7,6-1. There were comprehensive wins for the two young guns Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, while the Spaniard David Ferrer registered his 20th match win of the year like Djokovic. Another Serb Victor Troicki was also victorious as were the Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Jeremy Chardy, Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov, American number one John Isner, David Goffin of Belgium and Lucas Rosol of the Czech Republic who put out the German 17 year old Alexander Zverev. Five seeds were beaten as Belgium’s Steve Darcis beat Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, Brazil’s Thomaz Belluci beat the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in the last match to be completed on Saturday, Alexander Dolgopolov of Ukraine prevailed over the Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo, Colombia’s Alejandro Falla tamed the hard serving Croat Ivo Karlovic while Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz put out Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
Six second round matches which could not be completed on Day 3 as rain washed out play in the evening, there were wins for the Frenchman Adrien Mannarino (28th seed), 17th seeded Gael Monfils and 11th seeded Jo Wilfred Tsonga who ended the hopes of American Tim Smyczek. The Latvian 14th seed Ernests Gulbis continued his miserable start to the year as he slipped to 1-7 in 2015 loosing in straight sets to Argentina’s Juan Monaco. While the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco set up a clash against Rafeal Nadal, the lone American left in the bottom half Jack Sock upset the Italian no. 21 seed Fabio Fognini.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]