After world No. 1 Roger Federer’ stunning opening round loss by the hands of No. 175-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis Australia, the men’s draw at the Miami Open is a virtual toss-up.
With Federer’s loss, it will mark the first time since 2010 and only the second time in 15 years that no member of the “Big 4” in tennis (Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) will win Indian Wells or Miami. With all the usual stars on the sidelines after losses (Federer, Djokovic) and injuries (Nadal, Murray and Stan Wawrinka), many new contenders will now look at the draw and feel more confident that they can snag one of the biggest titles in the tennis circuit.
Juan Martin del Potro is seen as the favorite now to win the title, despite being the No. 5 seed and with two players seeded higher than him still in the draw – No. 2 seed Marin Cilic and No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev. Del Potro and Cilic are the only two players in the field left who have won major titles, del Potro beating Federer in the final of the 2009 U.S. Open and Cilic also winning in New York in 2014. The Argentine always plays his most inspired tennis when in the presence of his vocal and enthusiastic Argentine fan base and there is not a lack of them in Miami. He will feel as though he is playing for his country in these friendly environs and it will help lift his game, just as it did for him at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where he had an incredible run to the final and in winning the Davis Cup for Argentina later that year. To boot, del Potro is on a high after winning two big titles in the last few weeks, the 500-level ATP event in Acapulco, Mexico and his first Masters Series title in Indian Wells, California, where he defeated Federer in a thrilling final.
The only thing that could trip up del Potro would be mental or physical fatigue from playing so many matches in such a short period of time.
Cilic is in del Potro’s half and will also challenge for the title. Cilic still has a hot hand from reaching two of the last three major finals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 3 seed, was also in this half of the draw but lost to Jeremy Chardy of France. Dimitrov won his first Masters Series event in Cincinnati also on hard courts last August. He also won the year-end ATP World Tour Finals last November for the biggest win of his career, but has struggled since then.
In Federer’s vacated top half of the draw, the favorite to go through is probably Alexander Zverev, the No. 4 seed, who has already won two titles on the “Masters Series” level on the ATP Tour (just below the Grand Slams) last year in Rome (defeating Novak Djokovic in the final) and in Montreal (defeating Roger Federer in the final.
However, any number of contenders could also break through. Kevin Anderson, the No. 6 seed, is full of confidence after his run to the US Open final last September and could once again rise to seek more glory.
Tennis observers should keep a close eye on Denis Shapovalov and his Miami Open betting odds. The 18-year-old Canadian left-hander has jumped into the top 50 in the ATP rankings with his explosive game. If he is able to put together all of his amazing shot-making during a stretch of matches, he can beat anybody in the world and grab a title at any level.