Wednesday 22 March 2017

ATP & WTA Miami Ante-Post Starts 3pm Wednesday live on Sky Sports and BT Sports

The second leg of the March/Spring double that carries Masters 1000 points for the Men and is the second Premier Mandatory event of the year in the Woman's event.

The big shock coming out of Miami this week is the news both the top two in the World, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic (3x Defending Champion) have withdrawn due to elbow injuries.

This leaves very much a wide open tournament and a one that should be very competitive.
The Big 4, Djokovic (25), Nadal (13), Murray (10), Federer (9), have won a combined 57 of the last 62 Masters 1000 events but with Murray and Djokovic out of the equation I am happy to take on the ageing Federer who is favourite at 7/2 despite a 13-1 winning record in 2017 has only won back to back Spring Doubles at Indian Wells and Miami once which was way back in 2006. This is a tough feat and something only Novak Djokovic has been able to do in recent years at his peak of his powers, so I am happy to be against the skinny 7/2 for the 4th seed jolly in conditions that will be far tougher for him and slower than what he prefers.

Rafa Nadal is the second favourite at 6/1 and he should at least reach the last eight this week but is another that was unable to win this title at his peak so is happily swerved at the prices.

Kei Nishikori is the 2nd seed and he loves playing here in Miami. The Japanese star reached the final last year and fitness, durability, defensive skills, speed, footwork will all come into play here along with handling the humidity. Nishikori has lived in Florida for many years now and also is far better suited to Miami over Indian Wells and signs were bright on the back of his Indian Wells run to the Quarter Finals that he is in good form coming into this event.

Nishikori is a big price at 17/2 with Coral or 7/1 Bet365, William Hill and Betway acceptable, considering the big two are out of the equation and I prefer the all-around skills of last year's runner-up to come out on top over a potential career-changing triumph for the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, Alexandr Zverev who could come out the pack but for now are a good 12-18 months shy of a Masters 1000 breakthrough in my opinion.

Milos Raonic is at 9/1 and his recent return from injury appears open to how fit he will be as is the norm. The best effort here of quarter finals in 2014 and 2016 won't inspire many to get on board the 3rd seed and the top half could be between top seed Stan Wawrinka at 10/1 although his runner-up appearance in Indian Wells is sure to have taken its toll and I am not a fan of Stan at this time of the season in any case, and the European clay could be his next success as durability is rarely a tick in the box for Wawrinka, which is a key ingredient to success here in Miami. 

The top half really is wide open and for me, any one of Federer, Stan, Krygios or Thiem could come through that but it is Nishikori who I favour over all potential finalists from the opposing half this week.

WTA Miami

Top seed and World number one, Angelique Kerber, could come alive over this 12 days of play.  The 7/1 second favourite behind in-form Karolina Pliskova at 5/1 will be able to show off her excellent defensive skills and durability this week.

Kerber is usually a springtime of the year player and with the field minus Serena Williams in what is like the men's, a wide open looking draw, Kerber will surely eye this as a great opportunity in favourable conditions unlike what she encountered at Indian Wells where she regularly losses early and comes here crucially fresh.

Pliskova lost in the semi-finals last week 7-6 7-6 to Svetlana Kuznetsova to scupper our 9/2 selection. The Czech 2nd seed is in the form of her life but is short enough at 5/1 and feel her best chance of a title in March came last week and to be honest she wouldn't tempt me unless I saw 10 or 12/1 for her.

Kerber is housed in the same half of the draw as high seeds Simona Halep (3) and Madison Keys (8) both on only their second tournament back from long term injury.

I don't feel Halep will be strong enough for a run in the near future and we won't see the best of Madison Keys until the green grass is Beneath her where she will a very lively threat at Eastbourne and Wimbledon, in particular, this year if fully fit.

Cibulkova, Radwaska, and Muguruza, are a trio of out of form 4th, 5th, and 6th seeds, and for me - two players offering top 5 form at present are 9th seed Elena Svitolina 16/1 and 12th seed Caroline Wozniacki 14/1 who both will favour these courts and have the talents to show off their footwork and defensive skills required where both are also bang in-form.

They are both housed in a bottom heavy draw so my preference as highlighted is to side with Angelique Kerber who can claim her first title of the season at 7/1 general from the far easier top half of the draw.


ATP Miami to win Outright - Kei Nishikori @ 15/2 Coral or 7/1 Bet365, William Hill & Betway.

WTA Miami To Win Outright  - Angelique Kerber @ 7/1 General.

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