St. Patrick’s Day is finals day in the California desert. Angelique Kerber and 18-year-old upstart Bianca Andreescu meet in the women’s final. Then, Dominic Thiem will face 37-year-old upstart Roger Federer in the men’s showpiece.
With most top players either in Florida or on their way, let’s have a look at some favourites and outside chances for the 2019 Miami Open.
Indian Wells was a peculiar stop for the world no.1 this time around. Much of the focus on him concerned a boardroom battle with the ATP CEO rather than bashing balls from side to side.
The five-time champion could not make it six in California as he surprisingly fell to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. Djokovic may have been distracted with the off-court kerfuffle but I expect a strong rebound in Miami.
The 31-year-old is physically fine and has a reasonable record in Florida – just the six titles from seven finals. With Rafael Nadal absent and Federer potentially tired, the Serb has a great chance to add trophy number seven to his collection.
The Canadian combines a Superman haircut with impressive brain power and a gigantic serve. Thankfully for Raonic, his oft-injured body is holding up nicely at the moment too.
Last season, the former world no.3 battled various ailments but still racked up good performances in Wimbledon, Stuttgart, Indian Wells, Cincinnati and Miami. He is a three-time quarter-finalist at the latter.
This year, results have been unspectacular since he made the last eight in Melbourne. However, the bludgeoning serves and delicate volleys returned in Indian Wells as he cruised to the last four before Thiem toppled him in three sets.
The 28-year-old has played in three Masters 1000 finals and is playing well enough to reach a fourth in Florida.
It’s exceedingly difficult to pick WTA champions at the moment. While Naomi Osaka grabbed the last two majors, generally, a dozen or more women have a weekly shot at capturing a trophy.
As we move to Miami, Osaka is currently out of sorts since splitting with her coach. Sloane Stephens is struggling for form and Petra Kvitova doesn’t have a great track record in Florida.
Simona Halep will be there or thereabouts but I’d like to make the case for another former world no.1.
Pliskova, who turns 27 this month, is a regular fixture in the latter stages of tournaments over the past two seasons.
Her powerful strokes and court intelligence work well in Miami as she is twice a quarter-finalist and reached the last four in 2017. Just off a quarter-final run in Indian Wells, she should have some decent confidence.
The 20-year-old Belarusian only hit the big stage last summer, but she has a resilience that suggests a long future troubling the world’s best. There’s a ferocity to her game, from the booming strokes and loud grunts, that commands everyone’s attention.
Indian Wells was another positive week for the world no.9 as she managed a run to the round of 16 in singles and won the doubles with Elise Mertens.
Sabalenka does not have much of a track record in Miami because her ascent to the top is so recent. However, she has been very impressive in big WTA events thus far with a semi-final in Cincinnati last year followed by a maiden Premier 5 victory at Wuhan. She’s a formidable threat.
Odds correct at time of posting.