Men's Tennis

Sony Open Tennis Preview: Predicting the Top 25 Seeds' Chances in Miami

Justin OlexaContributor IIIMarch 19, 2014

Sony Open Tennis Preview: Predicting the Top 25 Seeds' Chances in Miami

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    Novak Djokovic
    Novak DjokovicMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    After an eventful two weeks in Indian Wells, the ATP moves on to Miami. The Sony Open will get underway on March 19. Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final to win his third masters title in a row and 17th overall. 

    Will anyone be able to put an end to Djokovic's Masters run?  

    I do not see an unseeded Cinderella taking down the title, so let's look at who has the best chance out of the top-25 seeds. 

    Check out the draw here.

    **All stats courtesy of atpworldtour.com 

Marin Cilic (25)

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    Marin Cilic
    Marin CilicPatrick Post/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Marin Cilic is off to a great start in 2014. He holds a record of 20-5 and has picked up two titles along the way.

    Beating players ranked better than him has not been a problem this season. Cilic has a record of 7-4 against players ranked above him. This includes a win over Andy Murray. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 6-1, 2-6, 3-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Cilic has been playing great this year, but has a tough matchup against Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 32. He has a 2-5 record against him in his career. Wawrinka will take him down once again, ending Cilic's run there. 

Philipp Kohlschreiber (24)

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    Philipp Kohlschreiber
    Philipp KohlschreiberMichael Probst/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Philipp Kohlschreiber had to pull out of the Australian Open due to a hamstring injury, but has gone 10-6 when healthy this year. His best result was a semifinal appearance in Dubai. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost his first match to Yen-Hsun Lu 6-2, 6-2

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Kohlschreiber has never played well in Miami. He has a record of just 2-7. Expect the German to lose to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round of 32, whom he has dropped his last five matches against. 

Gael Monfils (23)

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    Gael Monfils
    Gael MonfilsRick Rycroft/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown 

    Gael Monfils comes into Miami with a 13-4 record. Two of those losses have come against Rafael Nadal. His best result came at the Open Sud de France, where he took home the title. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the round of 32 against Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-3, 5-7.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Monfils has played very well this year and matches up great against his potential round-of-32 opponent Milos Raonic (12). His defensive play can get to Raonic as is shown by his 2-0 head-to-head record.

    If Juan Martin del Potro withdraws or struggles with injury again, then Monfils could even advance to the quarterfinals. However, his run would likely end there against Rafael Nadal.  

Alexandr Dolgopolov (22)

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    Alexandr Dolgopolov
    Alexandr DolgopolovMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Alexandr Dolgopolov was the Cinderella story of Indian Wells. He knocked off Nadal and then made it all the way to the semifinals. He now owns a 15-8 record on the year. Besides Indian Wells, his best result was a finals appearance at the Rio Open. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the semifinals to Roger Federer 3-6, 1-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    The Ukrainian is hot right now and can keep it up here in Miami. I like him to upset Tommy Haas (13) in the round of 32.

    They have split their two previous meetings, and Haas has not been playing great with a 9-7 record on the year. Expect him to fall to Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16. 

Ernests Gulbis (21)

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    Ernests Gulbis
    Ernests GulbisMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Ernests Gulbis owns a 15-5 record in 2014, and he comes in off a quarterfinal appearance at Indian Wells. He won the Open 13 in France. Gulbis has played well against the top players with a record of 3-2 against the top 10 this year.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to John Isner 6-7(4), 6-7(3) in the quarterfinals.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    After a strong showing in Indian Wells, Gulbis will carry some confidence into Miami. I like him to take down Tommy Robredo (16) in the round of 32. However, expect his run to end there.

    Djokovic will be too much for him to handle in the round of 16. Gulbis has a 1-4 record against Nole, but that win was all the way back in 2009.  

Kei Nishikori (20)

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    Kei Nishikori
    Kei NishikoriRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Nishikori comes in with a record of 13-4. He won in Memphis for his only title of the season. Nishikori also had a strong showing at the Australian Open by advancing to the round of 16.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to Tommy Haas 6-7(3), 2-6 in the round of 32.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    His second match vs. Grigor Dimitrov should be a very competitive one. However, I am giving Dimitrov the edge over him.

    The Bulgarian has played much better against tougher competition this year. Nishikori has not beaten a player ranked higher than 37. Dimitrov has defeated six players higher than that. 

Jerzy Janowicz (19)

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    Jerzy Janowicz
    Jerzy JanowiczAlexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Jerzy Janowicz has an 8-5 record on the season. He has not appeared in a final this year, but Janowicz does have a nice win over Tommy Haas on the year. Otherwise, he has not done much else. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the first round to Alejandro Falla 3-6, 6-2, 6-7(5).

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Janowicz usually does most of his damage indoors, but has a good draw to reach the round of 16. He should be able to beat the clay-court specialist Fabio Fognini in the round of 32.

    He has played Rafael Nadal close in their two matchups, but I see Nadal taking him out in the round of 16. 

Nicolas Almagro (18)

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    Nicolas Almagro
    Nicolas AlmagroNg Han Guan/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Nicolas Almagro missed the start of the year with a shoulder injury, leaving his record at just 5-4. He comes into Miami on a three-match losing streak. The Spaniard missed Indian Wells with the shoulder issue as well. This will be his first hard-court tournament in 2014.

     

    Indian Wells Result: DNP

     

    Prediction in Miami

    With lingering injury issues, I don't see Almagro going very far. He will likely lose his first or second match to Sam Querrey or John Isner.

Kevin Anderson (17)

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    Kevin Anderson
    Kevin AndersonMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Kevin Anderson is playing some of the best tennis of his career right now. He owns a 14-5 record on the year. Before reaching the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, he also made it to the finals in Acapulco and Delray Beach. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the quarterfinals to Roger Federer 5-7, 1-6. 

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Anderson will look to keep his hot streak going in Miami. He has been playing better than Gasquet, so I like Anderson to pull the upset over him in the round of 32. He has a 1-3 record against Gasquet but won their last meeting. 

    Unfortunately for the South African, his tournament will end there, at the hands of Roger Federer for the second straight week. 

Tommy Robredo (16)

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    Tommy Robredo
    Tommy RobredoVictor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown 

    Tommy Robredo comes in with a record of 9-5. The veteran clay courter had a good showing at the Australian Open. He made it to the round of 16 before losing to Wawrinka. However, he is just 6-4 since then.  

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to Cilic 4-6, 3-6 in the round of 32.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Robredo has not been playing great since the Australian Open and is also not at his best on the hard courts. Look for him to lose his second match against Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis won their only previous meeting and has the edge on hard courts. 

Grigor Dimitrov (15)

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    Grigor Dimitrov
    Grigor DimitrovMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Grigor Dimitrov showed the world the immense talent he possesses by advancing to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. He followed that up by beating Andy Murray and winning the title in Acapulco. His record currently stands at 12-4.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the round of 32 to Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 1-6, 5-7.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Expect big things from Dimitrov in Miami. He has a nice draw to make a run here. I like him to take out Nishikori and David Ferrer to make it to the quarterfinals. Ferrer is coming back from injury, and the Bulgarian beat him the last time they played.

    However, "Baby Fed's" run will end against the real Roger Federer. If it happens, it will be a great match to watch in the quarterfinals.   

Fabio Fognini (14)

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    Fabio Fognini
    Fabio FogniniEduardo Di Baia/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Fabio Fognini is off to a nice 17-5 start to the season. However, 12 of those wins have come on clay courts. He won the Royal Guard Open in Chile and made it to the finals in Buenos Aires. The Italian also made it to the round of 16 at the Australian Open. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to Dolgopolov in the round of 16 2-6, 4-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Fognini had a nice showing in Indian Wells, but he is much better on clay. Look for him to lose his second match to Jerzy Janowicz. 

Tommy Haas (13)

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    Tommy Haas
    Tommy HaasMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Tommy Haas has been very up and down this season. The veteran's record stands at just 9-7. He has lost to three players ranked 100 or higher. His best result was a finals appearance at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Round-of-16 loss to Roger Federer 4-6, 4-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    In his second match, Haas will be running into the red-hot Alexandr Dolgopolov. Haas is not playing his best tennis right now and will bow out there. 

Milos Raonic (12)

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    Milos Raonic
    Milos RaonicMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Milos Raonic has dealt with an injury for most of the season. This has limited him to just seven matches. In those matches he has a record of 5-2. Raonic had a big win over Andy Murray in Indian Wells before falling in the quarterfinals. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the quarterfinals to Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 4-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Raonic had a nice run at Indian Wells, but I don't expect him to repeat that here. He has a tough matchup against Monfils in the round of 32. Monfils is able to counter Raonic's strengths very well. Expect an early exit against Monfils here. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (11)

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    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
    Jo-Wilfried TsongaMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga enters Miami with a record of 9-5. He reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open and made it to the finals in Marseille. With a disappointing result in Indian Wells, Tsonga will try to turn things around in Miami. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost his first match to Julien Benneteau 4-6, 4-6. 

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Tsonga has a good matchup against Kohlschreiber in the round of 32. He has beaten him five times in a row. After that, Tsonga will most likely square off against Andy Murray.

    This is where Tsonga's run will come to an end. Murray has owned Tsonga in their careers. He leads their head-to-head matchups 8-1. Tsonga has not beaten him since 2008. 

John Isner (10)

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    John Isner
    John IsnerMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Isner started off the year great by winning the Heineken Open, but then followed that up with a first-round loss at the Australian Open. Last week, he made it to the semifinals at Indian Wells before losing to Novak Djokovic. This brought him back to the top 10 and improved his record to 11-4.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals 5-7, 7-6(2), 1-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Isner has always played well in America. Look for him to follow up his success at Indian Wells with a nice run in Miami. I see him taking out Berdych in the round of 16. Berdych leads their head-to-head matchups 3-2, but Isner is 2-0 in the States.

    However, I do see fatigue as an issue for Isner at the end of the second week. After taking out Berdych, he would most likely face Stanislas Wawrinka. Wawrinka will take advantage of the tired American and end his run in the quarterfinals.

Richard Gasquet (9)

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    Richard Gasquet
    Richard GasquetRick Rycroft/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Richard Gasquet has had an uneventful year. He has yet to win a title in 2014, and comes in with a record of 11-6. His best result was as a finalist in Montpellier. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the round of 32 to Fernando Verdasco 6-7(5), 1-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    The Frenchman had a great showing here in 2013, but I do not see another semifinal appearance this year. He has not been on the top of his game and faces a tough challenge in his second match. 

    He will likely meet Kevin Anderson in his second match, and Anderson has been playing great. I see Gasquet falling here and losing in the round of 32 once again.

     

Juan Martin Del Potro (8)

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    Juan Martin Del Potro
    Juan Martin Del PotroKamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Juan Martin del Potro started the year off great by winning the title in Sydney. However, he has gone just 3-3 since then. This is largely because of a wrist injury. Del Potro pulled out of Indian Wells with this injury. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: DNP

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Del Potro's success really depends on his health. If his wrist recovers after taking time off, then del Potro should be able to advance to the quarterfinals to most likely take on Nadal.

    This matchup could go either way; they are 4-4 against each other on hard courts.  If he is not healthy, he could be out much earlier due to injury. 

     

    **Update** Del Potro has withdrawn due to the wrist injury.

Tomas Berdych (7)

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    Tomas Berdych
    Tomas BerdychKamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Before losing his first match in Indian Wells, Berdych had been playing very well. He had won 16 of his last 18 matches. This included a semifinals run at the Australian Open, a title in Rotterdam and a finals appearance in Dubai. Berdych owns a record of 16-4 in 2014. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the round of 64 to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 2-6, 4-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Berdych should advance to the round of 16 without much trouble, but he could have a tough matchup against Isner there.

    I leaned towards Isner, but it could go either way. The American has the edge, because he is playing with home-court advantage. Isner holds a 2-0 lead in America and 2-1 lead on hard courts.

    If he does manage to get past Isner, his most likely opponent would be Wawrinka. I do not see Berdych getting by both of these matches.  Wawrinka has Berdych's number recently; he has beaten Berdych four times in a row. 

Andy Murray (6)

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    Andy Murray
    Andy MurrayMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    For Andy Murray's standards, he is having a down year. He has yet to reach a final and his record stands at 14-5. Part of the blame can be placed on recovering from back surgery in the offseason. Murray is still trying to find his form this year.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the round of 16 to Milos Raonic 6-4, 5-7, 3-6

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Murray is the defending champion in Miami. However, he is in the much tougher half of the draw with Federer and Djokovic lurking in his half.

    Murray will likely face Tsonga in the round of 16, which has been a great matchup for him. He leads their head-to-head matchups 8-1.

    With Djokovic likely waiting after this match, I see Murray's run ending there. Djokovic is simply playing at a higher level than Murray at the moment. 

Roger Federer (5)

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    Roger Federer
    Roger FedererMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Roger Federer has returned to dominant form in 2014. He is 19-3 and won the title in Dubai. He reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and lost in the finals in Indian Wells.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the finals to Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(3).

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Everything is clicking once again, so expect Federer to keep up this high level of play. I don't see anyone really posing a threat to Federer until the semifinals. He will most likely meet Murray or Djokovic there. I am going with Djokovic.

    Djokovic and Federer are neck and neck right now. Dating back to the end of last year, their last four matches have been three setters.

    The courts in Miami play slow, so I am giving a slight edge to Djokovic. He has had more success here recently as well, with two titles in the last three years. On the other hand, Federer has not made a final here since 2006.

David Ferrer (4)

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    David Ferrer
    David FerrerHugo Avila/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    David Ferrer enters Miami with a 17-5 record on the year. He made it to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and won the Copa Claro. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: DNP

     

    Prediction in Miami

    After missing Indian Wells with a thigh injury, Ferrer returns to action in Miami. He will continue his dominance over Andreas Seppi to move onto the round of 16 (currently 5-0).

    This is where I see Ferrer losing to Dimitrov. He has the lingering injury issue, and Dimitrov is starting to live up to the hype. The Spaniard also lost to him last time they met. 

Stanislas Wawrinka (3)

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    Stanislas Wawrinka
    Stanislas WawrinkaAaron Favila/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Stanislas Wawrinka shocked the tennis world when he took home the Australian Open title. He defeated Djokovic, Nadal and Berdych to win in Australia. Wawrinka also took home the Aircel Chennai Open title earlier in the year. He lost for the first time in Indian Wells to bring his record to 13-1.

     

    Indian Wells Result: Lost in the round of 16 to Kevin Anderson 6-7(1), 6-4, 1-6.

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Wawrinka will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season in Miami. He has a tough draw, but holds the head-to-head lead over potential opponents Cilic and Berdych. I see him taking out Dolgopolov and Isner in tight matches to advance to the semifinals.

    In the semifinals, I have Nadal getting his revenge on Wawrinka by knocking him out of Miami. The Spaniard was 12-0 against him before the Australian Open. 

Novak Djokovic (2)

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    Novak Djokovic
    Novak DjokovicMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    After losing in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and semifinals in Dubai, Novak Djokovic broke through with a title in Indian Wells. He comes in with a 12-2 record in 2014. 

     

    Indian Wells Result: Won in the finals over Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).

     

    Prediction in Miami

    Djokovic will be looking to win his fourth ATP Master 1000 title in a row and is the favorite to win in Miami. He has won here in two of the past three years. 

    As I broke down in previous slides, I like Djokovic over Murray and Federer. Murray is not at the top of his game, and the slower courts favor Djokovic against Federer.

    If Djokovic makes it to the finals, he will most likely face Nadal. 

Rafael Nadal (1)

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    Rafael Nadal
    Rafael NadalMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Breakdown

    Nadal owns a 17-2 record in 2014. He won titles in Rio de Janeiro and Doha. Rafa lost in the Australian Open finals and suffered a back injury there. In Indian Wells, he was upset by Dolgopolov in his second match.

    Indian Wells Result: Lost to Dolgopolov in the round of 32 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(5)

    Prediction in Miami

    Nadal did not look his dominant self in Indian Wells. He barely advanced past Radek Stepanek before losing to Dolgopolov. Hopefully the extra time between tournaments will help him get back to playing his best tennis.

    Nadal has never won in Miami, but I like him to reach the finals. Rafa was placed in the easier half of the draw. Del Potro's health is questionable, and he has dominated Wawrinka throughout his career. He has a 13-1 advantage in head-to-head matchups.

    I like Djokovic over Nadal, because he has been better on hard courts and has no lingering injury concerns. He leads their head-to-head matchups on hard courts 13-7

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