Welcome to Miami
The two hot favourites for the Miami Masters title are both out. Djokovic and Murray, who have 8 titles between them, and who contested for the world no 1 spot last year, see their difficult start to 2017 continue. Niggly-looking injuries rule them out until the clay court season.
This makes Federer the favourite for the title. He has secured the first two major titles of the year and could well get the 3rd here. Having said that, Miami has never been his most successful hunting ground, the slower conditions perhaps not helping his game as much as other tournaments. His last title here came in 2006.
Similarly, Nadal hasn’t quite hit the peaks here, the Spaniard competing well but never quite making the finishing line, 0-4 in Miami finals. He comes in as second favourite and should be motivated to break his duck.
This leaves a huge opportunity for someone outside the Big 4 to take a Masters title, who have rarely allowed anyone else a look in. Wawrinka must be in with a shout, having reached the final in Indian Wells last week. Nishikori likes these courts and was a finalist last year. Del Potro now has some tournaments under his belt and could come into form. Raonic returns to the field after missing Indian Wells. Berdych has been a bit out of sorts this year but he loves playing here. I also think the younger generation have a chance here, many of whom have games that suit the courts. The likes of Kyrgios, Zverev, Thiem, Pouille, Sock & Dimitrov must surely feel the time is right to grab a major title.
I think it makes sense to bet against the favourites again in this tournament. It would be an almost unbelievable story if Federer were to add the Miami title here and he could run out of steam. I suggest putting your money on Kei Nishikori. No, he hasn’t been at his best this year. But he is fresh and should be hungry for a title here. The exchange at Betfair has gone as high as 8.6:1 on the Japanese star to go one better than last year. With what looks like a golden opportunity, he now has the experience to take it.