Novak Djokovic is the defending champion of the Miami Open and he comes there after winning the Indian Wells Masters last week. Regardless, the media is agog with reports on the return of 2005 & 2006 Miami Masters champion Roger Federer of Switzerland. Such is the aura of Roger Federer that he makes news even for the smallest reason. At Miami, they will be watching the Swiss Supremo after a long lay-off following his knee surgery in February. The festivities have already begun at ATP’s truly big Masters 1000 event at Key Biscayne.
Miami’s ATP Masters 1000 tournament is a big affair with 96 players in the men’s singles draw and entries from each of the Top 10 players and 18 out of the Top 20 names featuring in Emirates ATP ranking. The same is true in women’s singles draw. No one wants to miss out the big event at Florida, where the tournament marks its 32nd edition. There are three former champions, who on record, share 9 titles among themselves in the last 11 years at Key Biscayne. In 2008, the title was won by the Russian Nikolay Devidenko and USA’s Andy Roddick took the crown in 2010. These two are the only exceptions from 2005, when Roger Federer became the champion. Federer went on to defend his title in 2006 before Novak Djokovic emerged as the new champion in 2007. Since then, the world no.1 Serb has won 4 more Miami titles in 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2015. Great Britain’s Andy Murray has also won here twice in 2009 and 2013. The men’s campaign begins with Federer taking on recovered Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, Djokovic playing against GBR’s Kyle Edmund and Andy Murray facing the winner of the match between Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin and Croatia’s Borna Coric.
Among women, Serena Williams has been the most successful player at Miami with 8 titles to her name since she first won here in 2002. The crowd will miss Maria Sharapova this year because she has been served a dope-related suspension on March 12, 2016 for failing to clear a drug test during the Australian Open. The Russian has admitted that her sample collected on January 26 contained meldonium, a banned substance in WADA’s anti-doping list of chemicals. Sharapova has never won at Miami but she had finished runner-up on 5 occasions during 2005-2013. A few first round matches have already been completed but Serena Williams is yet to touch the court. 23-year old compatriot Christina McHale will be Serena’s opening round opponent. In women’s draw, Serena could face some early resistance from Russian no.31 seed Daria Gavrilova, Germany’s Andrea Petrovic and Croatia’s Petra Kvitova. Otherwise, the world no.1 American looks like having a smooth passage to the final. However, Serena’s real test could come against 13th seeded Victoria Azarenka, who has shown tremendous improvement in her game in the 2016 season so far. Azarenka got past the world no.1 in last week’s Indian Wells women’s final and Serena would like to reverse that.
In women’s doubles draw, it will be a huge test for women’s world no.1 and top seeds Martina Hingis of Switzerland and Sania Mirza of India. The pair had a bad outing in Indian Wells, a year after they began their famous winning combo at that venue.