Miami's Elite Eight: Who Moves On?
From a field of many, the ATP's chosen eight remain in contention for the Key Biscayne Trophy.
So let's take a look at the remaining matchups. Who will advance? Who will go home?
No. 1 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. No. 6 Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Head-To-Head: Nadal, 4-0 (2-0 on hard courts).
Last Meeting: '09 Indian Wells (Nadal 6-2, 6-4)
Why Nadal Wins: Why NOT? This guy has the Midas Touch right now. He wins every tournament he plays any more. So why should this one be any different? He has taken any challenge in style.
Whether is in the form of a qualifier like Frederico Gil or a seeded player like Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal will beat anybody.
He's done next to nothing wrong and I don't see any reason for why that would change now.
Why Del Potro Wins: Is there a good reason why anybody will beat Nadal right now? Maybe, maybe not. JMDP got wiped off the court in embarrassing fashion not even two weeks ago at Indian Wells.
But as usual, he has demolished everyone he should be beating, including No. 12 David Ferrer.
After getting a good look at the Nadal game in the desert, Del Potro will have a few more things figured out. He will need to keep his points short, as he has all tournament, to have a chance.
Winner: Rafael Nadal. You can't pick against him. JMDP will provide a more competitive match than their last encounter, but it will not be enough for him to get over the hump. At this stage of his career, he must endure some painful lessons.
No. 4 Andy Murray (GBR) vs. No. 8 Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Head-To-Head: Murray, 5-1 (4-1 on hard courts).
Last Meeting: '09 Australian Open (Verdasco 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4)
Why Murray Wins: Murray will have one thing on his mind during this match - avenging his loss in Melbourne to Verdasco. It was an incredibly painful loss for the Scot, who had very lofty expectations going into the tournament.
If people haven't noticed yet, he has been on a roll since. Besides getting rocked in the final at Indian Wells, Murray came right back and started swinging for the fences. He started out by dueling with Venus Williams on the street, and most recently whacked Victor Troicki in the round of 16.
Bottom line, Murray is doing everything right. His game looks sharp, his appearance looks sharp, and he is a man on a mission.
Why Verdasco Wins: F-VED continues to enjoy a high watermark season in his career. He has jumped from 16th in the world to 9th in a quarter of a year and has produced quality result after quality result.
By trade, hard courts aren't even his best surface, but it sure looks like they are. He's been right at home for the past two weeks on the pavement, taking out some of the best in the business. Stepanek is no slouch on hard courts and Verdasco throttled him.
He doesn't care who he plays. With his fitness and conditioning, why should he even care? The heat won't bother him and as long as he plays his game, he looks flat out unbeatable.
Winner: Andy Murray. It's been well documented how Murray is one of the best players on tour at attacking a player's second serve. His drive for vengeance matched with his attacks on a below-average Verdasco serve will be enough to push him onto the semifinals.
No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. No. 3 Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Head-To-Head: Tsonga 4-1 (4-1 on hard courts).
Last Meeting: '09 Marseille (Tsonga 6-4, 7-6)
Why Tsonga Wins: He is an absolute monster on hard courts. The Boxer has not been broken once in the entire tournament and even though he dropped a set to countryman Gilles Simon, there was never a point in the match where Tsonga was not in control of the match.
His serve has also been money in the bank. Sporting a 5-to-1 ace to double fault ratio, he has been cashing in on a lot of free points.
He has probably also been enjoying one of the most successful seasons of any player on tour, except his is much less documented. He has already won two titles on hard courts in 2009 (Marseille and Johannesburg) and carries a 25-4 record.
Why Djokovic Wins: Like Tsonga, Djokovic has been quietly getting it done. He has utterly flattened every one of his opponents thus far in the tournament, and there hasn't been a whole lot that players can do to slow him down.
In the past when Djokovic played his best tennis, people would doubt him and write him off because he wouldn't be able to beat the likes of Federer and Nadal. He finds himself in a very similar spot here.
Winner: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Miami heat coupled with Tsonga's staunch serving games will do Djokovic no wonders. The Joker has to keep points and sets short or he will be in trouble, but Tsonga will give him absolutely nothing on his service.
Head-To-Head: Federer 16-2 (11-2 on hard courts).
Last Meeting: '09 Australian Open (Federer 6-2, 7-5, 7-5)
Why Roddick Wins: Is that "Last Meeting" or "Last Beating" for Roddick? The stats say he has no chance at winning this. But he absolutely does. Roddick has been playing the best tennis of his entire career this year, and the results show. He is 15-2 since the Australian Open.
He was clearly the second best player at Indian Wells, as he gave Nadal an incredibly competitive match in the semifinals. There aren't many players on tour who love the hard courts as much as A-Rod, and he has taken fullest advantage of them.
His first serves have been downright impressive, the way he controls every point. He is fit, fired up and feels no pressure playing in Miami.
Why Federer Wins: Because he's Roger Federer and he just finds ways to win. He has devoured any player on the opposite side of the court, no matter who it is. And has anybody even noticed? Probably not, because he's Roger Federer. He's supposed to destroy everybody.
Fed hasn't dropped a set yet in Miami - or even came close. Granted, the benefit of having a fairly simple draw worked in his benefit, but he has taken fullest advantage of it.
He will be rested and ready as ever.
Winner: Andy Roddick. He's just been too good over the last fortnight on hard courts. The crowd will soak in every moment of this match, and don't think Roddick will let them down.
Remember the last time Roddick knocked Federer out of a tournament? Yep, it was last year, in the quarterfinals of Miami. Look where they are now!
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