The Miami Open Continues to Highlight the Exciting & Unpredictable Landscape of the ATP Tour
The inaugural Miami Open at the Hard Rock Stadium has already thrown up plenty of thrills and spills in the opening rounds of both the ATP men’s singles and WTA women’s singles. Both Dominic Thiem and Bianca Andreescu, winners at Indian Wells, have been eliminated in the early rounds by higher seeded opposition. In the men’s competition Novak Djokovic (1st seed), Alex Zverev (2nd seed) & Kei Nishikori (5th seed) have also been knocked out, leaving just Roger Federer of the top five seeds remaining in the tournament.
For many there was a belief that this season may have ushered in a new era in the ATP and that the changing of the guard in men’s tennis was well underway. Looking at the stats this view would not be misplaced. On the ATP tour this year alone there have been 19 different winners across the 19 different events, an unprecedented level of volatility given the nature of men’s tennis in recent years. On top of this, Dominic Thiem’s victory at Indian Wells made him the 7th newcomer of the last 15 events to win a Masters 1000 title. Previous to this, only 7 first time winners occurred in 86 events, highlighting the previous dominance of those at the top of the sport. Even the last two 1000 titles have seen Karen Khachanov beat Djokovic at the Paris Masters and Dominic Thiem beat Roger Federer at Indian Wells.
As the Miami Open rolls on to the latter stages, Federer remains as the last of the old guard in the competition. He will play the very dangerous Daniil Medvedev as the final last 16 game and will hope to fly the flag for those who still believe in the Big Three’s dominance. Britain’s hopes evaporated yesterday when Kyle Edmund lost his titanic battle with the big serving John Isner, losing 7-6 7-6. The Greek, Stefano Tsitsipas, will also be disappointed to be eliminated as he looked like he had a great route to the final. His conqueror Denis Shapovalov will have his eyes on a maiden Masters 1000 title and will look to add to the growing statistic of recent first time winners.
In keeping with recent trends that means that only two players in the quarter-finals will have a Masters 1000 title to their name. Roger Federer and John Isner are the only remaining past winners in the competition and both would have ideal draws to make it a final between them. However, given the recent results even in this tournament it would be absolutely no surprise should neither of them make the final.
This is the final hard court tournament until the end of July, as everyone’s attention moves to the clay with tournaments such as the Rolex Monte-Carlos Masters kicking off the clay season leading up to Roland Garros at the end of May. Hard court specialists such as Isner and Kevin Anderson will be looking to take advantage of this tournament before more clay dominant players such as Nadal and Thiem begin to take their usual strangle-hold on the tour. With Nadal’s ongoing fitness issues continuing to plague his season, will his ‘King of Clay’ title come into question from another talented newcomer.
As for a final prediction on this Miami Open, the draw now looks absolutely set out for John Isner to reach the final of the competition. He plays Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-finals before a match up with the unseeded Felix Auger-Aliassime or the highly touted Borna Ćorić in the semis. However, given the results so far in this tournament, we must warn that making predictions in the current ATP Tour landscape is a risky business!
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