Sony Ericsson Open 2012: Contenders Outside the ATP's Big 4 Who Could Win

Van Sias@@Van_SiasContributor IIIMarch 21, 2012

Sony Ericsson Open 2012: Contenders Outside the ATP's Big 4 Who Could Win

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    Main-draw play has gotten under way at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, the ATP's second Masters Series 1000 tournament of the year.

    The first of the season, in Indian Wells, Calif. was just won by Roger Federer to continue a streak: The past 10 events have been won by a member of the ATP's "Big 4"—Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray, dating back to the beginning of 2010.

    While a breakthrough seems tougher than ever at the tournaments second in importance to the Grand Slams, five players are capable of playing streak buster in Miami.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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    Tsonga has been one of the hottest players on the ATP World Tour over the past six months, having won three of his eight career titles over that time. He's had success in Masters Series 1000 tournaments in the past, capturing his "hometown event" in Paris in 2008.

    With his powerful game, Tsonga is always a threat on hard courts, even coming off an unexpected loss to David Nalbandian at Indian Wells last week.

Juan Martin Del Potro

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    It's not easy to defeat two members of the Big 4 on the way to winning a major hard-court tournament. Juan Martin del Potro does have experience doing so, as evidenced by his 2009 U.S. Open run when he beat Nadal and Federer back-to-back.

    He's also been on a tear this year, winning a tournament in France the week after making the finals in Rotterdam. Del Potro's been caught under the Federer buzzsaw a few times this year already, but does have wins over him in the past—an encouraging sign.

Milos Raonic

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    He almost got him: Milos Raonic nearly derailed Federer's Indian Wells run before it got fully started, going three tough sets with the world No. 3.

    It's already been a dream season for the young Canadian with a 16-3 record and two titles under his belt already. That loss to Federer could do him a world of good, proving that he belongs with the game's elite and is capable of beating them.

Tomas Berdych

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    Tomas Berdych is capable of beating anyone on any surface and he's no stranger to success in Miami: he finished runner-up to Andy Roddick back in 2010, defeating Federer along the way.

    Berdych has also been playing some of his best tennis in 2012. He reached the quarterfinals in Australia, then followed that up with a tournament win indoors in France. That title-winning run in Montpellier was the first time in his career Berdych had won a singles title before March.

John Isner

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    Indian Wells runner-up John Isner is locked in on 2012. He's notched wins against Djokovic and Federer this season and is a freshly minted member of the world's top 10.

    He's clearly at his best on the hard courts and with his game can do some damage in Miami—perhaps even make a run to the title.